by Danielle Downe PLA Team Leader
You know who I’m talking about. The ones that sit in the front of lecture hall, with the “perma-raised arm.” The ones who ask questions not because they want the answer, but to demonstrate that not only have they read the textbook 7 chapters ahead of the recommended readings, but they have also read a zillion papers and supporting articles. These are the ones who make me feel like I’m not a stellar student.
And sadly, they exist in every faculty. Now, don’t get me wrong, questions (or question students) for that matter, can be very helpful. Some of us are a little shy in class to raise our hand and ask what’s on our minds. Therefore, it is through these confident students that some of our queries are answered without us having to break a sweat.
DON’T let those students make you feel
a)upset at your time management skills (how did they manage to read chapter 8. It’s week 2??) or b)mad (why won’t they just keep silent so we can get past slide 3??).
I’ve learned that the best way to deal with individuals like these is to surround yourself with “average students.” By average, I meant those students who ask questions when they need an answer. The students who realize that we are only human and therefore the textbook readings may get done, but the supporting article for fun? No way. By surrounding yourself with these kinds of people, you can keep yourself grounded when your thoughts start to run away on you. Here’s a little flashback of mine to give you an idea of what I mean.
In second year, it is a requirement for Life Sciences students to take a full year of Physiology. We had a couple “question students” in our class, and one of them I considered a friend of mine. We took physics together in first year, we were in the same tutorials and had studied together. I thought I knew her well enough to call her a friend. Anyway, one day before class we were both standing outside the lecture hall, and she was intensely studying these cue cards. Of course, my curiosity got the best of me and I asked her what they were. She told me that they were questions she needed to ask from last lecture and the readings. I panicked, because I didn’t have questions (I thought the lecture was straightforward!) so I asked if I could see them. I will never forget this moment – she looked at me, politely told me no, then physically took the cards she was holding and held them behind her back using her body as a shield, as if I was going to grab them from her. That little stunt changed my perception of our relationship, and from that day forward I decided that if I was going to survive the next 2.5 years, I would need to surround myself with people who would share their cue cards, if they even made them at all!
And I did find them. I have a core circle of friends and we all try to take similar courses (it’s a bit hard in 4th year when our streams are quite different) and even if we don’t have the same courses, we still study together, bounce ideas off each other and help boost each others’ confidence levels. It’s fantastic.
So next time your question student raises their hand in class, turn to your friends and smile. Perhaps listen a bit, in case the question is relevant, but don’t give much thought to whether or not you have questions to ask of your own. You are a stellar student, regardless of how many questions you ask or readings you cover.