This Class Just Went Atomic

, , , , | Learning | June 14, 2017

(I’m TAing a freshman physics class. The professor is brand new, and since he’s still learning his way around a classroom, I’ve been asked to write up my thoughts on his teaching. We’re coming up to the end of the semester, and he’s had a rocky year, but has improved a lot this semester.)

Professor: “Now, does anyone have any questions?”

Student #1: “Yeah, uh… can I ask a question that’s not related to the class?”

Professor: “I suppose so.”

Student #1: “You worked for the government before you came here, right?”

Professor: “Yes, I did. I worked for the Air Force, and for National Institutes of Health, and then–”

Student #1: “But what did you DO?”

Professor: *quiet for a second* “I’m afraid I can’t answer that.”

Class: *intrigued murmurs*

Professor: “Look, I decided to teach so I could get away from some aspects of –”

Student #2: “CAN YOU TEACH US ABOUT NUCLEAR BOMBS?”

Professor: “Uh…”

Student #2: “CAN YOU TEACH US ABOUT NUCLEAR BOMBS IF WE DO GOOD ON THE FINAL?”

Professor: “Fine.”

(The last day of class is supposed to be a debrief of the final exam and question-and-answer time. However, when it arrives…)

Professor: *showing a slide that says ‘TOPIC ONE: FINAL EXAM SCORES’* “I’m sure all of you are excited to find out how you did on the exam. The median was a 94. The highest was 100, and the lowest, I’m very happy to say, was an 89. I’m very pleased with these results.”

(He advances to the next slide: ‘TOPIC TWO: HISTORY, DESIGN, AND THEORY OF ATOMIC WEAPONRY,’ and the class cheers wildly.)

Professor: “As [Student #2] would say: you did good.”

(After the class ends, the TAs are helping him pack up the classroom. When the last of the students have left…)

Professor: “If any of them Google my name, they’re going to work out that I spent my life improving the design of safety railings. How long do you think I can keep up the mysterious government agent act?”

(We all scored him well.

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  • Kirishima Touka

    I love the way the teacher technically never lied to the class – he just didn’t correct them while still animating them to apply themselves.

    • WonderRabbit

      Except… He could have answered their question, but chose not to.
      So when he said “I’m afraid I can’t answer that” he was lying.
      He is a lying liar who lies.

      • Cathrope

        Who poured water on you this morning. The way I see it, if it makes the kids study hard and pass their tests, who cares.

      • Logcabinlv

        Well, technically getting the students motivated to work on their own is doing doing a good job, so if he wanted to do a good job, he couldn’t really answer the question, so in fact, ergo and forthwith, he wasn’t a lying liar who lies… really.

      • kaninefat

        He may have been under a confidentiality agreement. That can happen with government jobs, no matter what you work on just because of bureaucracy. In any case, we don’t know if the ‘safety railings’ story was true either.

        • Dsru Bin

          Or maybe he couldn’t answer because he was supposed to be teaching, not talking about previous jobs.

  • Summercat

    I laughed and clapped out loud when I read his last line.

    Good on him!

  • Deadpool
  • Jackie Fauxe

    Professor, you did good.

  • Lord Circe

    Even if they do, just say that “I can’t tell you what safety railings stands for”. Their imaginations will fill in the rest.

    • robindaybird

      or “I can’t tell what exactly I was improving their safety for”

  • Hahn Ackles

    Teachers like this are awesome.

  • Max

    Well, safety railings are important! Saved my clumsy self quite a few times.

  • Vulpis

    Obviously, he never worked on the Death Star project. 😉

    • Cathrope

      Seeing how there are no safety railings.

      • AR

        Perhaps he was in the rebellion?

        • Cathrope

          And a traitor.

  • Siirenias

    Barney Calhoun would approve.

  • Denton Young

    That’s actually very important work. Good for him.

  • Tyler Tenebrae

    If your former occupation is classified, it would make sense that public records of it are replaced with something harmless. If anything, it would only reinforce the mystery.

    • RallyLock

      If your former occupation is classified – it would be omitted from the public record entirely, not replaced with “something harmless”…

  • Professor is da bomb.

  • Kitty

    I’d fail the class for saying ‘did good’.

  • Abigail Hermione Irwin

    He sounds like a GREAT teacher!