Giving a lecture your undivided attention for an hour can be a challenge in itself, let alone overcoming the many disruptions we become subject to during this time from our fellow academics. Below is a list of just some of the disruptive members of our lecture experience we will encounter at some point.
The late comers. Ah, here they come, piling in at 10 past 9; one after the other, their embarrassment concealed with a guilty smirk as they each mumble an apology to the lecturer. The lecturer, who, while trying to keep his cool, ignores the commotion and continues talking over the awkward shuffling and fumbling of these mumbling disrupters. You can see that the continuous slamming shut of the heavy door behind these over-sleepers is making his eye twitch a little. But you can’t help but feel for these snooze button lovers as they awkwardly try and find an empty seat and set up their spot as quietly as they can, all eyes on them as if they are about to proceed a court trial. More empathy, perhaps, for the last late comer who becomes victim to the lecturer’s irritability. It’s like he has let it all build up until the very last one, making a snide but direct dig at the already red-faced dupe, “my lectures start at 9 a.m. not quarter past.” He then unravels the unacceptability of tardiness, and how it can and will affect our academic careers…forget the 10,000 word dissertation on a unique subject, the 3 hour exams and the all-nighter spent on an essay on Jane Eyre…if you miss the 9 a.m. boat dear friends, a first degree becomes unobtainable. So now, it’s quarter past and the first fifteen minute focus so far has been dedicated to observing these late comers rather than the lecture you got up real early for…
The Sports Students that aren’t studying sport. Usually convoyed with the above, the sportsmen and women lunge through the lecture doors with a little less worry and shame than the regular late comers. While kitted out from head to toe in branded sports gear, how they can run around a pitch for an hour and still be late to a lecture theatre baffles me. And why they didn’t choose to study a degree in something sports related only baffles me further. This is because of their extreme devotion to a subject that isn’t their choice of degree – Sports. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s hugely inspiring and I remember always feeling pure envy at the girls who rock the top bun and the sports hoodies, and the guys who’d turn up in a pair of grey joggers and still look good…and really comfortable. The irritation came from the lacrosse sticks hitting more students than they did lacrosse balls, the murmur and private jokes about last night’s social and the melodramatic bias they possess for their particular sport – and their particular sport only – apart from perhaps a game of pub golf.
Freshers with Flu. As if soothers are going to do anything to get rid of that scandalous cold. The echo of cough sweets clanging across teeth, awkward sucking sounds combined with thick nasal breathing; it’s enough to put you off breakfast…and the lecture. When one of them coughs, four others think it’s a good chance to clear their throat too. I know their thinking – if they cough at the same time as the other coughers, it won’t be as obvious. Instead, the lecture becomes a reverberation of coughs and chokes, all different pitches, tones and volumes. Reverting to a very pre-adult persona, they make out they are suffering from something more extreme, chronic and life threatening, but is really only the result of cheap shots, kebabs and not wearing a coat.
The volunteer. You know the one, the eager know-it-all – or know-not-much in some cases – who raises his or her hand at any opportunity within the duration of the lecture. Such opportunities include: the ‘raise your hands if you evers,’ the ‘does anyone know the name ofs,’ and the straightforward ‘I need volunteer.’ The hand shoots up at every chance like a wealthy hoarder at an auction. Although on the occasions their answers are completely wrong, the volunteer will never back down. In fact, they will keep raising their hand until they get the right answer. I say raising hands, perhaps this is a little outdated in today’s lecture theatre. Unless otherwise instructed, the volunteer will shout out the first thing that comes into their head; you grow tired of their voice and begin predicting their next dreaded strike. The volunteer is smug, and can be found sitting at the very front of the theatre. This is to allow us to see them ever so slightly turn their head, to witness their proud smirk when they are praised by the lecturer for giving a ‘spot on’ answer. The volunteer will also deliver in depth, overly descriptive stories about where they gained knowledge on a particular answer. They won’t just give an answer, they will tell us which article they read ‘this one time,’ and where they read it, and who wrote it, and why they wrote it, and when…and how interesting they found that article…and OH PLEASE.
The Apple Mac Pro’s. They have a certain walk about them these lot. It’s like they walk to accommodate their laptop bag, carefully, with great caution, as if to avoid anyone bumping in to them…or rather their laptop. When they take their seat, they vigilantly take the precious, branded appliance out of its precious, branded pouch, and place it so very carefully on the desk in front of them. It is almost like watching a surgical procedure. I’m surprised latex gloves aren’t involved; every movement so dainty and gradual. That is until the lecturer begins speaking; then they tap tap tap away, typing viciously on their shiny white keyboards, every single damn word the lecture says. Every word. Meanwhile, the rest of us quietly scribble away in our brand spanking new Pukka Pads.
The Apple Mac Pros don’t ever speak either, no. Unlike our trusty volunteers, they don’t even look up. It’s just them and their Apple Mac, their Apple iPhone and their Apple ipod, and their …apple. They have probably read Steve Jobs’ biography a zillion times. To them, it’s the bible. Okay I am being a little melodramatic here, but the sound of keys tapping right next to you is so annoying. Once you hear it, you cannot stop listening to it… and they make you paranoid you should be writing more with your primitive pen and paper.
Chelsea Jay Branch is our culture writer here at Seroword