Mentally Deranged

I recently claimed that you would not find too many disturbed students at Bond University. Well, YMMV.

Mild cases of mental disturbance are simply displayed by those students who prefer to sit in the last row during the lecture, constantly hammering onto their laptop keyboards.

Fellow students would complain that the annoying noise would make it difficult to follow the lecturer's words of wisdom; the guy would be in 15 IRC channels simultaneously. I rather console myself with an alternative theory: He was just typing in every single word I said.

More interesting are those students who surf porn. Ah yes, during the lecture. And surely, directly in the front row so that all the (female) students could follow what is going on. Or going in, for that matter.

This I found insulting for a variety of reasons, but mostly because I still believe that I myself look sexy as hell. Even without the makeup. And like you I am still dreaming of a pr0n industry career.

Well, maybe after the diet.

Even more interesting are those students who tried to actively disrupt your course. There was a case where one of my students always came half an hour late and left half an hour before the end of each lecture.

That by itself was not really disrupting, but it became so once he told the whole class when he arrived or left that he (a) had to pick up a friend at the airport, (b) attend the toilet, (c) felt tired this morning, (d) had to visit his mom at work, or (e) forgot to turn off the lights at home. And yeah, the car broke down on the way from Brisbane, too.

And it became certainly an issue when he started to ask questions like these in the lecture:

Robert, do you actually like Bill Gates?
Robert, will you show us how to hack a computer?

Of course I always had perfect answers for perfect questions. Always.

Then there were those cases where you receive emails like these:

I am the mother of a student of yours. He has suffered severe depression over the last years and is on strong medication now. He has not submitted the necessary assignment work because of his problems and I ask you to factor in his psychological state into his assessment. Please avoid anything which may upset him; it would throw him back in his process of recovery.

'Mother', sure.

The funny thing is that - once you refer 'The Mother' to the official university process to apply for special consideration - you never hear (or see) of this student again. Nor from 'The Mother'.

More serious cases involved students who send pictures of themselves to you. Hi-Res pictures which showed them with duct tape glued over their faces. That gives you a bit of Abu Ghraib flair.

Although, that particular student may have had a case: She had been a Ph.D. student at Bond University with another professor as supervisor. After 3 years (!!) she had been informed that she will not be able to finish her Ph.D. thesis because of lack of progress. Understandably, she was distraught and upset. When I agreed to take her over to finish at least an Honors degree with me she was already too damaged and refused to do any work.

In the meetings with her, I then never noticed that she had left her mobile in the middle of the table. And I never noticed that the mobile had been turned on all the time. I only learned that later.

Figure this: Someone sitting on the other end of the connection and this someone has to listen to me for 2 hours straight talking about Topic Maps. Cool, of sorts.

The good news is that more of these students are on the way in to Bond. At least if you believe what prospective students write into their private blogs:

... I have to realistically admit that it is going to be hard or even impossible (literally speaking) to be able to enter into the undergraduate degree that I want to do, with a decent university here in Sydney ... This is where Bond University kicks in .... the main point is that it is the only university so far that will allow me to enter into a Business Degree.

He closes with:

"Be strong and of a good courage fear not nor be afraid of them, for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee, he will not fail thee nor forsake thee." Deuteronomy 31: 6

Not much I can add here.

Posted In

Sometimes one must be brave

Sometimes one must be brave to ask questions...

Yet another friendly lecturer, looks through the lecture-theatre noticing many people, if not all students, in the back of the theatre and one big fella in the front:
"Why are somebody all sitting in the back? And why is some body taking up two seats??!!?"

Anonymous | Tue, 11/20/2007 - 20:28

Ah, thanks for that hint. I

Ah, thanks for that hint. I will write about student obesity later :-)

But that was not your point, was it? Or was there?

rho | Wed, 11/21/2007 - 09:29

Yes, that was the point. A

Yes, that was the point. A lot of comical/bizarre things to mention about some of your students. There are so many that come to mind...

Math Question: What is 2+2?

That is not a priority right now... perhaps after Lunch?!

kalwun (not verified) | Thu, 11/22/2007 - 11:02

Re: Yes, that was the point

The 2 + 2 question reminds me of another incident. In 2000 I had this class about Internet Technologies. One of the assignments involved computing an estimate of bandwidth consumption:

  • One user - on average - consumes a bandwidth of 50 kbit/sec

And as part of the solution one would have to determine what 100 users with such a profile would need in terms of connectivity.

One student approached me with

Robert, how am I supposed to know that?

And another meant:

Robert, if I wanted to know that I would ask my technician.

Future leaders and thinkers. Bond ambition in real life.

rho | Thu, 11/22/2007 - 13:21