Last week I was asked a classic student question that is surely among the most hated by the professors of the world:
Did I miss anything important?
Does anyone ever answer "No"?
If the answer really is no, then either I am not doing my job well or I am being sarcastic. It is unusual for me to pass up a chance at sarcasm, but I typically don't find it satisfying in this particular circumstance, so I said:
The student waited for me to elaborate, and I waited for him to ask a follow-up question, even though I didn't want to hear his follow-up question. I out-waited him. He asked:
I gave the classic professor response: I am not going to repeat my lecture for you, despite the numerous important points in it. Get the notes from someone who was in class, look at the image file I posted, look at the review questions I posted, read the relevant part of the textbook, then if you have any questions about the material covered, let me know etc.
That is: You do some work first and then I will help you if you have a question about the class topics.
My questions to you, readers, are:
- Does anyone have a good response to this question? I would define good as not rude but, at the same time, sending the semi-friendly message that the question is perhaps inappropriate and would be better if phrased another way or, better yet, not asked at all.
- Don't students know how obnoxious this question is? Don't more senior student pass along valuable information to new students to help prevent the latter from such grievous errors? Or at the very least, doesn't the university provide some information about do's and don'ts of dealing with professors? What are those students doing during their freshman orientations when they are all standing in circles on campus lawns and clucking like chickens? In between the bonding games, couldn't someone say "Hey, here's something you really need to know: If you miss all or part of a class, never ask the professor if you missed something *important*. It hurts their feelings, and some of them get angry."
But maybe, just maybe, if no one ever asked me this question anymore, I would miss it. I'm not saying it is an important question, just that it is a classic question for a reason. It would be like if no one ever asked me what was going to be on the quiz. Or if a faculty meeting were canceled because no one had anything important to say. That is, unimaginably weird.
6 months ago