the perfect lecture?

a diligent student still in her seat after the lecture =)

Lectures play an important part in University life, just like the raindrops in monsoon =) Some lectures are very short – like the 20min talk on verbs of movement I enjoyed today – and others are rather long – like the two hour introduction to Spanish literature I (cheerfully) endured last week. As has already become evident, the topics of lectures may vary too: the diversity of pine trees in the Iberian Peninsular, the membrane potential in animal cells, the importance of essential minerals in a plant’s diet or the question of whether or not there is ambiguity in the classical “El libro de buen amor”. Along with the topics, the professors doing their utmost to represent them to us students are equally diverse:

A) There is the strange genius that forces us to think by putting forth questions, gazing at us intently until someone dares to speak and contradicting himself to make us ponder which answer is true and to encourage us to be aware of the many wrong and right ways of interpreting…these classes can be fascinating, intimidating and at times trying – when the professor forgets that clear articulation and volume immensely contribute to a student’s understanding!

B) Then there is the magician, who wraps up boring subjects with delightful smiles and gestures, uses simple language to disguise complexity and sometimes overdoes it, making the class feel like preschoolers…but on the whole the method is successful and encourages participation and interest.

C) Then there is the enthusiast, who is so passionate about his subject, that you can’t help liking it too. No matter how dull the slides should be, they have you captivated as you listen to his explanations and you feel an urge to acquaint yourself more with this previously unknown field and find yourself wishing that you had endless hours at your disposal to dedicate to this wonderful discipline…

D) Then there is the calm expert, who is incredibly friendly and helpful, but whose lectures require utmost concentration at an inconvenient time of day and whose calm voice at times becomes unheard in the midst of murmuring classmates…Yet he undoubtedly knows what he’s talking about, so the learning potential exists, just requires a bit of effort.

E) Then there is the amiable teacher, who truly seems to be more concerned with what the students understand than with rapidly commenting the slides…very willing to answer questions out of class and at times gently reminding the students that solving any difficulties one has with the subject BEFORE the exam is near might be a good idea…

F) Lastly the unfortunate lecturer whose class is so full of squabbling students that it makes listening difficult and does not encourage attendance…though the intention is there, perhaps the situation will improve as the semester goes on…

I am sure there are many more lecturers out there…all have their peculiarities and share the not always easy task of transmitting their vast and usually specific knowledge to a bunch of not yet very qualified students that may one day work alongside them…or even take their place. I am grateful for their effort and shall try to increase mine…after three weeks of studying at the UAM I have some advice for myself and maybe some others that find themselves attending all kinds of lectures every day…

  1. It helps to go to the lectures – as in, make it a habit – asking yourself every time if its worth it is NOT helpful…and if your argument is that you’ll learn out of a book, well – will you? And you might miss emphasis on certain areas, hints for the exam or the delightful company of your fellow students =)
  2. It helps to sit near the front (yes, where the “teacher” can see you)
  3. It helps to PAY ATTENTION, not daydream, play with your phone/laptop, read a book, chat with your neighbour…sleep
  4. To avoid sleeping – helps to drink black tea, coffee, mate – another brilliant idea is to sleep more during the night (I’m told it works wonders!) or, if possible, to do exercise before class (tried that today and was fully awake for the two following lectures!)
  5. And lastly, it helps A LOT to be somewhat familiar with the subject at hand. So yes, if your supposed to read a text – might be a good idea to skim over it before you come. If you can’t get your head around to what the prof is saying – maybe you should read something on the subject out of class, get help from friends or even go see him during office hours. (Heard you can do that and they usually don’t bite your head off)

Sooo that’s the advice I’m giving myself.
Feel free to add your own (there’s this “comment function” below…) or add descriptions of lecturers you have had the pleasure to hear =)

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