The adventures of a New Jersey college professor with very strange friends, colleagues, and family members.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

So many questions, so little time...

One of the things that amuses me most about being a professor is the bizarre and seemingly random questions that students ask me after the lecture, more often than not being entirely unrelated to what’s going on in class.

For example, earlier this year, a burly jock-type student approached my desk with two small red pills and asked me; “What will happen to me if I take these?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “What are they?”

“I don’t know.”

“Where did you GET them?”

“Some guy in the gym gave them to me,” said the student, apparently not seeing the potential danger in such a transaction.

“So a complete stranger came up to you in the gym and gave you drugs?” I asked, trying to be clear.

“Yeah. What will they do to me?”

Hopelessly, I said: “Well, at best it’ll give you a nice buzz. At worst, it’ll kill you.”

He honestly weighed the pros and cons of that statement and put the pills away.

Another example: Several weeks later, two students came into class arguing about Jesus. “Let’s ask Professor BeowulfGirl,” one of them said. “She’ll know!” (this is never a good sign).

The other student asked me: “Did Jesus speak Latin?”

“Well,” I said, trying to be helpful, “if Jesus lived WHEN we think he did WHERE we think he did, he would have probably spoken Aramaic, which is an ancient Hebrew dialect.”

He was not to be defeated. “But wouldn’t Jesus know Latin anyway?” he insisted. “I mean, HE’S JESUS!”

I sighed. “If Jesus was, indeed, omniscient, then yes, he would be AWARE of Latin, but he wouldn’t have preached in it.”

And a third example: After a rousing lecture about “Frankenstein” earlier this term, when I asked for questions a student’s hand shot up. He asked: “Exactly how long ago was ‘Ancient Greece’?”

I’ve finally figured out what’s going on. A lot of people, upon hearing the word “professor,” immediately think that I’m like the Professor on “Gilligan’s Island,” who knows EVERYTHING. According to them, I have a vast cornucopia of knowledge that would make Ken Jennings jealous, including medical skills and apparently knowledge of every language spoken on the globe. And they look so puzzled when I’m not able to help them.

At least no one asked me how to actually assemble a monster of their very own when we read “Frankenstein.” I think the patent has expired.


  • At 7:27 PM, Blogger Meldraw said…

    Your students never cease to confound and amaze me. I am less worried about Armageddon resulting from global warming than I am about it resulting from the critical thinking skills of the next generation.

    Also, I'm pretty sure you could make a radio out of coconuts if you tried.

  • At 7:23 AM, Blogger Elen said…

    Hey there :) I recognized your name from the TWoP boards. I'm so glad that you decided to start a blog, you are a great writer, and have very interesting stories.

    No offense to your students...but pills? That someone gave them? How dumb can you get?

  • At 1:12 PM, Blogger Elizabeth Sanford-Anson said…

    Are you certain you're teaching college and not kindergarten? Because based on what you've written about your students I can't believe they're adults capable of attending any University, Very Serious or not.


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