Monday, September 13, 2010

On the vice of cleverness

I have a number of students this semester who seem to mistake cleverness for an intellectual virtue. Now, by "cleverness", I mean that display of wit or intellect that is not other-directed or other-interested—except insofar as an audience is necessary for their performance—or at all concerned with forwarding a discussion. This is the sort of participation that is really about scoring a point, that is evidenced by the hand that raises with an objection before a point is even made. And, I can't help wondering whether I was that same student.

3 comments:

Nicholas Bormann said...

Speaking as a long-time student, gratuitous cleverness from one's peers can be unforgivable. I pay money and show up to listen to the instructor, not the puerile thoughts of college students who think they already know everything.

I'm sure this annoying behavior has an online equivalent also, but at least there it's easier to ignore.

Tyler said...

It surely has an online equivalent, but you are a more virtuous man than I am if you can ignore it. It galls me just as much there as it does in person and is one reason that I am always on the edge of deleting Facebook at the very least, but you are definitely right that it is more objectively problematic when one is paying for the class that is being interrupted by an attempted display of virtuosity.

DK said...

If it's any comfort, I don't remember any gratuitous displays of cleverness.