Monday, February 26, 2007

Talking to Students

Now as you all know, this week is the University of Michigan's Spring Break. As we speak, thousands of students are leaving the city of Ann Arbor and wandering home, navigating primarily by landmarks and the promise of free food and laundry services. Many of you, out there in the world, do not live in Ann Arbor and may be stunned by the sudden re-appearance of people you haven't seen in years. Do not be alarmed! As the University vomits its beloved students upon your community, you may be wondering how to deal with interacting with people that are your intellectual, physical and social superiors.

It's very easy, provided you follow these simple steps:

1. The Approach
Your average UM student is a feisty weasel. After weeks of sweet talking their way out of assignments and foraging for edibles , they will seem at first skittish and stand off-ish. When you spot one, approach with bent posture to show your submission before their self-importance. Be sure to have cash and burritos protruding dangerously from your pocket, It's often helpful to say in a loud voice, "Oh no! My money and my dinner are hanging precariously out of my pocket!" Allow the student to snatch them away, thus affirming their sense of superiority. Once the student has begun to inspect the burrito, you can move on to step 2.

2. The Greeting
After getting the attention of a student, you should now greet them as soon as possible. The greeting is essential - do not forget to greet the student! First, feign ignorance of their level of education. Ask them, 'where do you go to school?' When they reply, immediately drop to the ground placing both hands firmly on the pavement. Immediately beg their forgiveness for your own stupidity and ask them to lay their hands on your head so that you may know the sensation of touching brilliance. Only after they have touched your head, should you rise - but never above their height.
Continue with the greeting by offering them land, wives, and the use of laundry facilities. The practice of 'gifting' is very important to the UM student - give them something. Be sure, when singing the praises of the student that all the correct honorifics are used. 'Sir,' should be used only for a freshman, 'Lord' for a Sophomore, 'Great one' for a junior,' and 'Galaxor Nebulon - ruler of the 12 Nefftel Clusters of the great outer arm - whose eyes shall command all he sees with great wrath and vengeance' for a senior. All female students should be addressed as, 'Madame,' 'Empress,' 'Honey,' or 'Shnookums.'
Once the student has allowed you to make eye contact, may you move on to the actual conversation.

3. The Conversation
For the non-student, the conversation phase is the easiest of all of the steps. Simply ask, 'how are things at school,' and then do nothing. You will note an instant twinkling in the students eye, and a sudden lightness about their person. They will immediately launch into a long tirade centered around very long words and very difficult concepts. They will, however, not really understand what they're talking about and will veil their ignorance as much as possible.
Do not attempt to ask for clarifications, simply nod while the student speaks and comment on how impressed you are. Though proud, the student is easily wounded, especially in discussions of his/her academics. They must feel as if they have accomplished something, it's best not to rob them of this one indulgence - its what they live for.

4. The Escape
Though you may love them, you certainly do not want to have to listen to a student all day, and now that you have got them going its going to be very hard to get them to stop. There is no way out of a conversation with a student, except to deflect the conversation on to something that the student fears. Ask them about their finances, about their love lives or about their plans for the future. You'll notice an almost instantaneous change. The student will shrink back, as if poked with a stick. This will not, however stop them from talking. Instead, they'll launch into a lengthy explanation. Do not them being their explanation. In the split second of indecision after you ask them you must quickly run out of the room. It may help to throw glitter in the face of the student so as to confuse and disorient them. If you can afford it, you can also through Gary Coleman.

- - - - -

Hope nobody gets rubbed the wrong way by that. It seemed funny to me at the time.

1 comment:

Aunt Julie said...

Is this an ironic commentary on these recent headlines: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070227/ap_on_re_us/self_centered_students;_ylt=AiSX7LQTzR4kpEQWGz4BtqcDW7oF