A Blog Too Far

Let me expose the awkwardness of a Harvard section

The following is a running commentary written during one of my sections last week. Mom and Dad, I’m sorry that I was using class to write my column instead of participating and taking notes. But like you say, college is all about time management, and I killed two birds with one stone on this one.

3:07 p.m.: This is my first time ever bringing a laptop to class. To be honest, I generally don’t like it when students use their laptops to take notes. What happened to the good old days of pencils, notepads, doodling, and note-passing? Now all we get are loud typers giving me a headache as they smash their keyboards. Maybe I’m just jealous that these people actually have real notes to study from later instead of my illegible scribbles and doodles of Ninja Turtles. Be careful, though, as doodling can be more dangerous than you realize. One time I went to pass in a paper at the end of class, only to realize that I had passed the hour blissfully doodling all over the back of it. I had a hell of a time trying to erase my crude cubes, stars, and my stream-of-consciousness note of “this class sucks” before I handed it in.

3:10: My TF started the class by asking one of those ridiculously easy and obvious questions to the class that no one wants to answer out of fear of getting labeled by their classmates as a suck-up. An awkward 30-second silence followed with everyone staring blankly at one another. Just wanting to put an end to it, I blurt out the obvious answer.

3:11: Turns out my answer was wrong. I’m embarrassed and done participating for the rest of class.

3:22: This discussion has been absolutely brutal. There are 12 people in the section, and if there was an over/under for how many people actually did the assigned reading, Vegas would probably set it at three. The TF keeps asking us questions, in response to which we put on our “concerned intellectual” faces and act as if we stayed up all night pondering the deeper meaning of the reading, when in reality I know that at least four of us are still waiting for our books to arrive from

3:29: Ok, this girl really needs to stop talking. She is such a classic “over-participator.” She keeps going on about the reading, citing quotes from books that aren’t even part of the course, and using far too many hand gestures. In one of her monologues she even used the phrase “et cetera,” which is simply unacceptable. You know you’re talking too much when you have to take a time-out mid speech to take a sip from your pink Nalgene bottle.

3:31: More phrases that should never be used while speaking in class: “to piggy-back on the last point,” “and yet I digress,” and “with all due respect.”

3:33: The girl sitting across from me has been giving me a weird look for the entire class. Either she has a crush on me or she hates me. It’s difficult to tell.

3:37: This dude just walked into class 37 minutes late. I don’t know whether to be appalled or impressed. I mean, at what point do you decide that it’s too late to even show up to class? Right now he’s just sitting there with his coat still on and his iPod headphones still in. What a badass.

3:40: Do you think my TF has started to wonder yet about why I’ve taken more “notes” in today’s section than I have, say, for the entire semester?

3:43: I feel bad for our TF. Our discussion is going nowhere, and I’ve seen her check the clock three times in the last 15 minutes. I’ve found that there are three types of TFs. First, you have the ones who get stuck teaching a subject that they know very little about. So you’re a graduate student in archaeology? Well then I guess it makes sense that you’re teaching a class on astronomy, since both subjects deal with rocks on occasion. Next, you have the TF who is actually overqualified for the class. These are the ones that come into section and explain to you that, unfortunately, everything your professor lectured about was wrong. So whom should you believe: the professor or the TF? Who knows—just make sure you guess right when it’s time for your midterm. Finally, there are the TFs who you have no idea if they are good or bad, because you spend the entire class just trying to figure out what the language they’re using is.

3:47: Number one sign that your TF wants some more participation out of you: You reach your hand up to scratch your head, and she immediately turns and asks, “Eric, you have something to add?” Fortunately, this sly tactic doesn’t phase me: “Nope, just scratching my dome.”

3:54: My laptop battery is about to die. These stupid Dell batteries are defective. I think that it should last until the end of class, though.

3:58: Wow, wait until you hear this. I just figured out why that girl has been looking at me funny all class, and the reason is as shocking as it is embarrassing. Basically, what happened was that sh-

Eric A. Kester ’08 is an anthropology concentrator in Winthrop House. His column appears on alternate Mondays.


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