In the olden days, there were always students who thought they knew more on a given subject matter than the educator paid to present the material. These individuals were commonly referred to as pains in the posterior, though rougher metaphorical language sometimes surfaced when the aggrieved teacher was removed from mixed company and offered the opportunity to procure several rounds of medicinal libation at a local establishment after five. These aggressive know it all students were few in number, as high school Darwinism usually produced sufficient scorn and physical abuse to dampen all but the most total pompous prig’s zeal to out teach the teacher.
Alas, those halcyon days have long since past, and current faculty must suffer not merely a single annoying entity in their classroom, but the grave risk of encountering three or four score of students armed to the teeth with the latest research and materials plucked hot from the internet for the purposes of defeating the would be educator in intellectual battle publically. Even the school jocks have crib sheets put together by Harvard English majors for their classes on “Romeo and Juliette” and Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.” As such, each and every class has become the opportunity for an epic type battle, complete with Homeric overtones.
“I, Professor of History with a Master’s from New York University, specializing in Ancient Civilizations, cum laude 1994 present to you, my theory on how the Greeks would have viewed the afterlife, based on the readings of Homer and other notable playwrights from the same era.”
“I’ve read your thesis. It was shot down in flames by a subsequent dissertation at Yale and later the University of Chicago, wherein comparative literature from across multiple cultures attempted to discern the distinct understanding of the Greek epistemology 500 BC and found little in the way of consistency, owing to the topography of Greece itself. Even Harvard’s classic’s program had to disown several prior dissertations that reflected that less coherent and theologically sound understanding of the human condition as perceived by the ancient people of Greece.”
“I have a dozen websites indicating this revelation of yours is over four years old.”
“I contacted your professor and got him to admit he only gave you an A because he liked you personally.”
“The substitute last week was much better informed.”
“Why aren’t you giving us the original Greek and allowing us to translate to see if we agree with the interpretation rendered in the book?”
“Wouldn’t you kids rather play Wii or something?”
“Sure thing Professor J!”
“We won’t expose your ignorance again.”
And as the class settles into a silent peace, wherein the students turn on their Ipods and blackberries, laptops and cellphones, the professor sits and stares at his once upon a time finely crafted lecture and waits for the period to end in silence.
Thus the professor of English made tenure and became an institution at the prestigious high school. He was also known to drink liberally.