Class Dismissed: Fun and learning with University of Chicago undergraduates

The following is a transcript from a discussion section for an undergraduate humanities class if everyone involved said exactly what they were thinking.

Graduate Instructor: Okay, I know no one wants to be here, and few people in this section have done the reading, while fewer have anything to say about it. So let’s be quick about this, okay?

Student 1: I have nothing to say, and I am saying it.

Student 2: I have something to mention that only tangentially relates to the material being discussed. This counts for participation, right?

Student 3: Relating to what he said–but not really–I have something to add. I know what I just said has nothing to do with what’s being discussed, but it’s the one insight I had into the material, and I decided to try and make it fit here, because it will probably never make sense to insert it anywhere else in this conversation.

GI: What you just said is possibly the most masticated thought in the history of this subject, but I have to be democratic about this, so I think we can use your thought as a jumping off point.

Student 1: About what I was saying earlier: no one remembers what I said, but I thought it prudent to try and press the point at this random juncture.

Student 3: That brings me back to my random point! If you remember, Harold Bloom had some fascinating insights into this tiny academic province.

GI: That is possibly the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, but I respect your right to speak nonetheless.

Student 4: What if I ask a question about some minor biographical information that has nothing to do whatsoever with the ideas at stake in the reading?

Student 1: That reminds me of the last time I read something by another author. It was wonderful.

GI: I should have applied to Harvard, where I could teach undergrads that will at least be socially relevant, if not intelligent.

Student 3: Derrida…

Student 1: I really like how the author belabors the point I’ve been making this whole time.

GI: They don’t pay me enough for this.