Sunday, April 14, 2013

Psych 100

Chanukah, Hanukkah, Hanukah, Chanukkah. The various spellings always confused me and still do but being Jewish, at least I know how to pronounce it. 

Which leads me to two stories from my college student days. I was in Psych 100 as a beginning freshmen (really enjoyed the class and went on to minor in psych) at the University of Illinois. Being an entry level course, there must have been 1,000 students in the huge lecture hall. 

The lectures were telecast to several other halls around the campus. There must have been 20 TV screens suspended from the ceiling. Also being an entry level course, seats were assigned and attendance taken. 

Story One: I got friendly with the girl sitting next to me. We would chat or compare notes before class and we got to know a little about each other. Half way through the semester she said to me, “I bet I know what your father does for a living.” She was being really serious. 

I, surprised and confused replied, “Oh?”

“Yes,” she said, “I’ll bet he is a tailor!” (You may pause to laugh here.) 

Apparently I was the first Jew she had ever met, being from some small town in the South, and the stereotype just kicked in. I was sorry to disappoint her. "My father is an electrician."

Story Two: Same lecture hall. A different time. There is an unspoken law that if your professor doesn't show up you must wait at least 15 minutes before assuming the class will not take place. 

Here are 1,000 students sitting in their seats. The broadcast runs into technical difficulty and doesn't begin on time. The grad assistants take attendance anyway and leave. 

After twenty minutes still no lecture. Still 20 fuzzy screens. So people begin to leave. I sit for a while longer chatting with my small town, newly knowledgeable, non-Jewish seat mate. We finally decide to leave to get a cup of coffee and continue our visit. 

Just as we get to the door the TV technological difficulties are corrected and the lecture begins. Picture this ... twenty of the professor lecturing to an empty lecture room.

January 2009

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