While I have been pursuing my second master's degree for some time now, most of my coursework has been on-line or otherwise removed from having to interface with other students in the flesh to any large extent. All of my on campus work has been in computer classes where people are largely too involved with their own thing to bother each other terribly. But this semester, I find myself back on campus for both classes, in smallish lecture settings, and sure enough I am reminded of just how obnoxious certain types of students can be. My evolution course includes two students who each embody a different type of obnoxious student mode. Both were late entries to the roster, joining us for the first time today, two weeks into the semester. Both made their presence known in awful ways.
One exemplifies the kind of student that I call "The Smartishpants." The smartishpants is identified by a persistent and banal yammering; running on at the mouth for no other reason than to prove that he can make sentences of English words. You may be familiar with the smartishpants from your own time as a student. This is the student who asks obvious and stupid questions for no particular reason. The student who laughs far too loudly at any comment made by the professor with even a hint of levity. The student who has to add a remarkably shallow comment for every point discussed. In all of my years as a student, smartishpants are probably my least liked type of student. I just can't stand being forced to listen to someones useless verbal ejaculations. All would be okay if the smartishpants was even remotely capable of worthwhile thought, but sadly that is not to be.
The other late entry embodies a different style of awful student. For the purposes of this exercise, I'll refer to her as "The Attention Sponge." From the moment she walked in, she began to let us all know that she considers herself to be the most important person in the entire universe. Far be it from anyone else in the class to question this assumption. In our time together today, I listened to her tell the professor that he was wrong to point out that she had not taken the papers that he left by the door for late entries (as she entered thirty minutes late), point out an innocuous spelling error on the blackboard and stop the class to demand that it be changed and tell the professor that she could not remain at the end of class to discuss the syllabus that he distributed last week because she was having "car issues" (whatever those might be).
So there you have it. Smartishpantses and Attention Sponges and lucky me to get to deal with it. It's funny how I notice these things as a student, when I have yet to notice it as a teacher. Do I keep these types of students from manifesting in my classroom? Or am I just oblivious to it, trusting my students to work these issues out on their own. As for my fellow students and the possibility of us ironing out these two wrinkles, I doubt we'll do too much about them other than quiet, resentful tolerance. Or, maybe we'll take the suggestion of one of my fine fellow students and just start drinking before class starts. Either way.