How to deal with a wayward student
Scene: The book strewn office of Prof. Rabelais
Prof. Rabelais: Come in. Ah, hello Tommy. Glad you could make it. Take a seat.
Tommy (a shifty looking second year): Huh, ‘hanks.
Prof. Rabelais: Tommy, let me get straight to the point. I’ve been looking at your performance last semester and I can see that you’re attendance was abysmal and that you have failed everything, mainly it seems because you didn’t submit any work or sit a single exam. Is that right?
Tommy: Huh, huh
Prof. Rabelais: Look, Tommy, I’m not your dad or your social worker or the police but it’s my job to make sure that you progress on this course, and that is why I’m having this chat with you now.
Tommy: Huh, huh.
Prof. Rabelais: Tommy, do you mind if I ask you a very direct and frank question?
Tommy: Huh, OK
Prof. Rabelais: Tommy, tell me, are you stupid or just lazy?
Prof. Rabelais: I ask this, Tommy, because laziness is something I can do something about. I can help you mend your idle ways. But stupid, I can’t fix. Stupid is permanent. Ignorance can be enlightened. But stupid just is… And Tommy, do you know what the worse thing about stupid people is?
(Tommy shakes his head)
Prof: Rabelais: It’s that they don’t know that they’re stupid, Tommy. They arrive at university and sit slack-jawed through seminars thinking that everybody else is stupid and they solemnly believe that it is everybody else’s stupidity that accounts for their own painful inability to comprehend what is going on. (Pause) Tommy, shall I tell you what I see when I look out across all those upturned faces in a lecture?
Tommy: Huh, huh.
Prof. Rabelais: I see dead people, Tommy. I look deep into the eyes of each and everyone, just as I am looking into your eyes now, and I can divine the quick from the dead. I can see the cavernous space were an intellect should be and I know that that person is dead – dead as the proverbial doornail, they just haven’t the wit to stiffen. Are you dead to me, Tommy?
Tommy: Huh, no
Prof. Rabelais: Good. So I shall see you tomorrow morning at 9.15 at my lecture. And Tommy, remember, that after our little conversation this afternoon it would be stupid not to attend. Now run along.