This is on the record. I hope that it doesn’t get any worse.
My first tutorial was today. From what I’d heard from fellow Uni students, tutorials rocked – they were informal discussions with just a few people you got to know quite well.
This one didn’t. For the five minutes during which the lecturer hadn’t arrived yet, there was an aggressive silence which would later characterise the tutorial. Every time I glanced up to try and say hello to the person beside me, they were texting or looking much too occupied to be bothered with me. So, coward that I am, I shut my mouth and said nothing.
There were about 12 of us in the room; I think about 5 hadn’t done the reading. Silence seemed to flourish and I felt really uncomfortable – for an entire hour, it was basically the lecturer, myself, a boy who also contributed, and another girl who would slip in with such gems of close reading that it made you feel like she was selecting what to share in order to keep the best for her notes and to put in her essay at the end of the course. I’m probably being cruel and it’s nothing of the sort, but that’s what it felt like to me.
Allowing questions to go unanswered is hard for me – especially as no one else was leaping in with a great idea. I felt obliged to offer something up – no doubt what the lecturer’s cultivated silences were supposed to do. However, my points were meagre – I am not the best at analysis at the best of times, as you really have to point something out to me before I ‘get it’. For example, when the lecturer asked for words that stood out, normally I never would’ve even tried to put an opinion out there, because when I read, all the words seem the same, and nothing stands out. I would’ve loved to hear other people’s thoughts, as that could help me pinpoint the type of words to look for when reading. As it was, I ended up talking a whole lot of shallow rubbish that even I didn’t think could be counted as close reading…and felt terrible as the other members stared at me from the corners of their eyes as they looked at their empty pages or laptop screens. Silently.
I hope this doesn’t repeat next week…I have even less to say on the next reading than I did this one!
Does anyone have any tips on how to encourage a proper conversation in tutorials, so that we all get the best of each other’s ideas?
Let’s call me Lily