Columns

Simon ’16: On classroom etiquette

By
Opinions Editor
Monday, September 28, 2015

It is my sole conviction that the intended benefit of class discussion has taken two steps back and then an additional five in the same direction. I am also exhaustively convinced that chivalry is dead. But for the sake of clarity and my sanity, let us now and forever cleanly wipe Saturday’s failed nocturnal pursuits off the slate and zero in on the former issue: common courtesy in the classroom. Or lack thereof.

As I’ve come to realize, nothing moves me further from sadness than the united efforts of the ill-mannered and the long-winded. Of places where these temperaments fester wantonly, I can think of only four: the jury room, Scrabble night at any senior center, Dallas and an alarming number of Ivy League classrooms.

If anyone has ever had the immeasurable misfortune of suffering through one of these classroom settings, one would have needed to do nothing but sit idly on one’s own thumbs in order to detect a suffocating, pretentious and noticeably passive-aggressive air of latent academic one-upsmanship wafting through space. It’s irritating, contrived, stymying and grossly intolerable. Until three days ago, I was but outwardly resolved to call for a moratorium on classroom etiquette as we know it. But what good would that do?

So by dint of some very hard work and meticulous research, I did my level best to create 10 prescriptions that, if strictly adhered to, will improve one’s class persona and general likability in spades. I present “The New Ten Commandments,” a title which already engenders all kinds of delicious biblical controversy and self-assumed importance.

Let us learn.

Commandment One: Beginning your comment with “for me,” “in my opinion” or “I believe” discourages your classmates from partaking in the groundbreaking self-discovery that’s surely unfolding before them.

Commandment Two: Your lengthy self-apologetic preamble undermines whatever point that follows, provided there is one. For instance, prefacing the meat of your comment with “this is probably going to sound really stupid” indicates to me that what you’re about to say is not the only thing deserving of the label “stupid.”

Commandment Three: If you end your comment employing uptalk or vocal fry, consider yourself hopeless beyond redress. Or a Kardashian.

Commandment Four: If you are of the persuasion that the adverb “honestly” adds validity to whatever it is you’re saying, please refer back to Commandment Three.

Commandment Five: Any answer longer than 15 seconds is not an answer; it is a testimony. Though brevity may be the soul of wit, sometimes silence is the soul of appropriateness.

Commandment Six: Nothing shows one’s hand of ignorance like the excessive use of one’s hands. You’re not Sicilian. And if you are, I apologize profusely and concede to whatever demands you will invariably make. 

Commandment Seven: Referring to “something interesting” you just came across on your laptop is nerdy and does not delight me. It also fails to deceive the class into thinking the last 30 minutes were spent doing anything but scrolling through Reddit.

Commandment Eight: When you “add onto” or “jump off from” a classmate’s point, be sure your addendum does not bulldoze the prior comment for the sake of paving a fresh foundation on which to build your irrelevant case and equally unwarranted jabbering.

Commandment Nine: If you choose to disregard Commandment Eight, then for the love of all that is good and holy, do not under any circumstances attempt to contribute to the discussion by posing a tangential question. It should go without saying that not every unanswered curiosity merits exploration.

Commandment Ten: If you somehow have the chutzpah to disregard the two aforementioned commandments, you would do well to put down this paper at once and resume reblogging Politico articles on topics in which you developed a tenacious interest no more than four hours ago.

Let there be realness.

At this point, I’m reminded of a lunch I had exactly one week ago with a very dear friend of mine. Per usual, we sat down under an elm tree and I made my displeasure known about everything in existence. In return, he listened. But as I broached the topic of classroom etiquette and how, for reasons unbeknownst to me, nobody at present seemed capable of managing a single declarative sentence, he did something, well, typical: He quoted Plato.

“Chad, wise men speak because they have something to say; fools speak because they have to say something.” I nodded approvingly, though somewhat miffed that my rambling diatribe had been interrupted. I responded with all the grace and candor one could expect from a petulant rabble-rouser.

I told my friend to pardon the blunt observation, but Plato is dead, and I am not. So until Plato’s self-exhumed corpse pays a visit to a Brown philosophy section, his words have lost all their gravitas and universality. (If there existed a lunch bell, then would have been prime time for my friend to be saved).

Thus and thus, in the spirit of Brown patois, I’d like to “add onto” Plato’s crumbling platitude with a question: for me, I feel, at least like for me, and I’m not even remotely qualified to say this, but honestly, for me, why does the fool have to speak at all?

Chad Simon ’16 is beyond flattered by all the positive feedback he’s received from friends and Republicans.

  • Abby Muller ’16

    It’s ironic that this article is rather more pretentious and impenetrable than any of the types of comments it complains about.

  • ’16

    This is the single most obnoxious piece I’ve ever read in the BDH.

  • Concerned parent

    dear god is this real?