Working with younsters keeps my mind in an excellent health. To show you why, I recount some tales.
- I am in the middle of my lecture when a last bencher approaches, I have asked students to come and leave the class as they want but try not to disturb, but he still asks me for permission to leave. I ask him what’s wrong, he says he was chewing on his pen and ink came out. When walking back to my office, to his friend, I have many blueteeth.
- Usually at the end of an elective at BITS, I used to invite students for dinner or snacks. At one such gathering the students started discussing a guy “S” who was not present. They said S’s mother makes long phone calls to him. S’s strategy to deal with the calls is to keep the phone in his pocket and every five minutes or so pick it up, say “yes, yes… mom” and the phone goes back to the pocket. So it is regular to see S someplace with the phone in his pocket making squeaky voices.
- In one assignment problem, where I had asked students to either build some demo. of EM systems or study a new application, one of my students came up with the fantastic application of using EM fields to shape flames. So coooool 🙂
- One of the smartest students in my class was a bit way too smart. He started bunking alternate classes and asking questions about classes he had missed. My final exam paper had all the mathematical formulae needed by students. I had to go home during the test. The guy who would have topped the class easily was found to be cheating in the exam with formulae written on his palm. As he had missed classes and had not paid attention to course announcements on the webpage, he did not know that I was to give them all the formulae in the question paper. He has to drop that core course that semester. That taught me that academic abilities don’t always go with honesty. I hope it was one of the follies of the youth, but general experience does not seem to agree with my hope.
On other hand the same guy, in a previous course had come up with an interesting fact about calculation of an integral in electrostatics and the teaching team was very happy with him for that.
- In another experiment, I told students that during the exam I shall write any formula they need on the board provided I can understand which formula they wanted. Oh what a rabbit hole that was. Students kept asking for complex formulae and misdirecting other students.
- A student who had survived cancer and was dealing with recurrence was someone I shall always look up to. (I had no idea until the end of the course when a colleague told me).
- Olin students, in their “ A very potter musical” had interesting black figures moving props around”. Very funny. I so enjoyed the show, even though so much context was missing.