write meg! has an excellent post about her days as an English major. She lived for her poetry class–a small group of ten to fifteen students who discussed and wrote poetry. The small, intimate nature of these classes allowed for each student to contribute to indepth discussions.
I’m also a former English major, but I didn’t take a poetry class. Instead, I took lots of history. I love studying the past, particularly social history. I enjoyed the big, anonymous lectures and the reading assignments. I even liked disappearing into the dusty stacks of Main Library to research essays and term papers.
What didn’t I like?–the weekly seminar that went with each history class at UBC. These were small discussion groups with ten to fifteen students in each. Unlike write meg! I’ve never enjoyed any type of public speaking (so I became a teacher–I know, it doesn’t make sense to me, either.) I especially dislike speaking in front of a group of educated, well-informed people who’ll realize if I say something wrong. (Okay–maybe this why teaching is a good fit for me, after all!)
Lucky for me, most seminars were filled with confident, intelligent students who carried a discussion with no help from me.
Until a 4th year Canadian history course when I ended up in a seminar with about twelve other introverts.
The prof put out a question for discussion and there was . . . dead silence. We students glanced at each other. Surely there was one extrovert, know-it-all in the group.
Our prof looked disgusted with us. She pulled out her class list and started at the top. Her first victim stammered and answered uncomfortably.
A few people down later, it happened.
“Nanette?” she said. “Can you elaborate?”
Palms sweaty, I tried to put together something, anything, remotely intelligent to say when I experienced a miracle–another girl answered.
Praise the universe–there was another Nanette in the group!
I coasted through the rest of the course, letting other Nanette field all my questions. I don’t know if she or the prof wondered why other Nanette seemed to be called upon twice as often as everyone else and why the quiet girl in the corner never had to answer a question.
It didn’t come up until the last week of class when the prof finally clued in.
“We seem to have a second Nanette in the group!” our prof said, examining the class list. “Where is she?”
Cough, cough. “I’m Nanette.”
I’m so very grateful other Nanette wasn’t a violent woman because she looked like she wanted to rough me up.
I’m so sorry, other Nanette!