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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Choke

They say that everyone goes through an experience where they look like a total moron in law school. Most professors use some form of the socratic method for in-class discussion. Sometimes you know when you are going to be called on, and sometimes you are called on randomly. This semester, I have one class where we are called on randomly, two classes where we are called on alphabetically, and one class where we are called on sequentially by row, but randomly within the row. So sometimes you can predict when you will be up, and prepare yourself accordingly. Today I learned that knowing you will be up does not necessarily mean you won't make a complete ass of yourself.

I thought last semester I had experienced a few days of looking like a total moron, but really my day came up today, where I in fact completely choked instead of merely stumbling. It was the class where we are called on by row, and when my name was called, I began describing what had happened in my assigned case, when I quickly realized that I had the parties all confused. It was a case involving some rings found by a pool cleaner who was hired to clean a pool, and the dispute was over who could claim the rings -- the finder, or the property owner. If I had started out saying that, I might have been ok (why can I always phrase things well in writing and not in speech?), but instead I started out saying we had two homeowners with a pool who hired a guy to clean their pool... then I realized, no, these aren't homeowners, who are they? The owners of the pool were actually a company, though the property was still private. This was a detail that is so inconsequential to the turnout of the case, but trying to figure out where I was wrong on the fly caused me to become completely retarded, and, doubting myself, I asked my professor whether such and such detail was correct, and he said, you tell me, and I said I don't know. Then he called on the girl next to me to take over, and I was left feeling like a complete ass.

It doesn't really sound that bad typing it out, but it felt bad, and embarrassing to falter in front of my peers and then be denied help from my professor (which all the professors at my school have thus far been more than willing to provide), or an opportunity otherwise to redeem myself. I could have handled the rest of the case decently, I just got tripped up.

The advice is always to shake it off. They say everyone looks like an idiot sometime, and most people are so worried about how they look themselves, that they forget about how others look. I'm trying to tell myself that, but I still keep thinking about it, and am upset about it. Everyone else who was called on did really well, and I completely blew it. Even if I hadn't, I probably would have stumbled, because I don't do too well with oral communication, especially under pressure (something I know I need to work on).

I'm not concerned about what my professor thinks about me. Exams are graded anonymously, so how a professor feels about you should not impact your grade, although sometimes notably excellent or notably poor participation can manifest in half-step adjustments to your grade. I guess I feel most badly that there is the possibility of me being misunderstood. I'm not an idiot, but I looked like one. I just want to say, no, give me another chance, that's not who I am! I will get another chance. I don't know if my prof will call on me again next time, or write me off until my row comes up again later, but eventually I will have the opportunity to either redeem myself, or mess up again and make it look worse.




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6 comments:

Ian said...

Everyone makes mistakes keep your chin up, I'm proud of you. Check out this article although I am sure it is nothing new.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/academic_support/2009/10/anxiety-over-being-called-on-in-class.html

B.R. said...

Sra, many professors 'choke' the same way you're describing the experience here. More specifically, even after years of being in the classroom, I still choke at least once a week. Chin up, indeed. It's as ubiquitous and rain.
By the way, I tried to leave a comment on another post, and for some reason it got 'eaten.' And for some reason, I can only comment on your site if I access it from Safari as opposed to Firefox which is what I tend to privilege.

B.R. said...

Yes, it worked. As ubiquitous AS rain, that is.

Sra said...

I'm glad to know even the brilliant choke :)

I don't know why my blog eats people's comments sometimes. I also don't know why you can't view it on Firefox. I also use Firefox instead of Safari on my Mac, and I can see it just fine, so I have no idea what the issue is.

I have contemplated moving my blog over to Wordpress, which seems to be a more stable blogging platform, but that would entail me having to reroute my domain name, which is a royal pain in the ass. I may still do it sometime, but it will have to sit on the backburner for now. Still, I regret the inconvenience.

Sra said...

I'm glad to know even the brilliant choke :)

I don't know why my blog eats people's comments sometimes. I also don't know why you can't view it on Firefox. I also use Firefox instead of Safari on my Mac, and I can see it just fine, so I have no idea what the issue is.

I have contemplated moving my blog over to Wordpress, which seems to be a more stable blogging platform, but that would entail me having to reroute my domain name, which is a royal pain in the ass. I may still do it sometime, but it will have to sit on the backburner for now. Still, I regret the inconvenience.

Ian said...

Everyone makes mistakes keep your chin up, I'm proud of you. Check out this article although I am sure it is nothing new.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/academic_support/2009/10/anxiety-over-being-called-on-in-class.html

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