Religion is one of my favorite classes, in theory. I adore studying things like this, especially when it comes to analysis and comparison and so on. I like it so much that I’m better than the rest of my classmates, who don’t really raise their hands that often in class. In keeping with my Oath, I’ve been ‘participating’, even when it comes to pathetically easy questions, and my teacher has been neglecting me somewhat. Maybe it’s just an impression because answering his ridiculously easy questions annoys me, but to be honest I don’t resent his ignoring me. It actually inflates my ego quite nicely.
It’s annoying to have to raise my hand so often, though. I’m lazy and impatient; my arm gets tired. So today I went up to my teacher and said, “Mr. Bare, you’ve been ignoring me in class.”
“What? No, not at all,” he replied. This was not going according to plan. We had a short bout of ‘have not’, ‘have too’.
“Well, I was wondering if I could just stop raising my hand for the easy questions and only do so when I believe I have something worthwhile to say.”
He did not like this idea. I was somewhat put out. After all, I’m not just saying this because I’m conceited and self-centered – if that were the only reason I’d have said it ages ago. But his questions are so simple! And for anyone who’s read their homework, questions with a single, short answer are usually not that useful. The ones that further your understanding are the ones where you have to extrapolate and theorize. I would rather stick to answering those, and leave the easy stuff for the people who never raise their hand at all and need a break.
PART 2 (written one day later)
Today we had this selfsame teacher for History. We are studying the United States in the time between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. In the early 1800s, the federal government began raising import taxes on European goods to improve the market for local industry in the North. The southern states were rather upset. “They were selling cotton in Europe,” Mr. Bare reminded us. “And what did they fear the European countries might do in response to these taxes?”
“Set taxes of their own,” someone answered.
“Exactly. And what could they tax that would most affect the American economy?”
There was a confused silence in the classroom. Someone finally raised their hand. “Cotton?” she suggested tentatively.
This was the answer the teacher was looking for. It drives me crazy that he does this. It’s pretty simple: When you ask a question that you’ve just given the answer to, it is assumed that you are expecting some answer other than the one you just provided. In fact, it’s condescension to expect otherwise. You ought to give people a chance to answer for themselves before you presume them incompetent. (That being said, perhaps he has given us a chance and has since given up. My class can be somewhat incompetent.) Worse, though, is that this is very confusing. Even though he’s done this a billion times, it takes a while for people to believe that it’s really that simple. Therefore it takes a while for people to realize what he wants, and he assumes that this is because we’re stupid. Therefore he treats us even more condescendingly, and it becomes a vicious circle.