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I Gave the Wrong Answer in Class Today, and the World Didn’t End…

Since high school, I’ve never been one to voluntarily participate in class.

I’m guessing the biggest reason was the fear of giving the wrong answer, and then feeling myself transform into Lobster Man in full view of the rest of the class.

Basically, I didn’t walk to be like Ivan Ackerman, as seen below.

This behavior continued all of the way through my PhD. I remember after one of my PhD seminars the professor asked me to stay after class and then he told me that I had to stop sitting in class like a “bump on a log.” I don’t recall my behavior changing too much despite his plea.

(As I’ve written about before, this type of behavior was not unique to the classroom. I tend to be the same way in other settings, whether it’s getting my hair cut or sitting in a department meeting; I just don’t have much to say.)

I was a little better when I went back to community college a few years ago to get a degree in Health and Fitness Promotion. Perhaps it was the nature of the courses or the teachers, but I found myself much more willing to both ask and answer questions.

But for the most part, I still tended to keep my thoughts to myself (except for when I’m blogging…)

Fast forward to my Calculus class. Slowly but surely, over the past semester and a half, I’ve gotten a little braver. I still sit in the very back of the room, but I’ve started asking a few questions and offering a few answers along the way, but only when I was pretty sure I knew the answer.

Well today the teacher asked a question, and no one seemed to be answering, so I thought I’d give it a shot, even thought I wasn’t quite sure of the answer.

You can tell by the title of the blog what happened, I gave the wrong answer. The teacher was kind enough to soften the blow and tell me I had given an answer to a different type of problem.

But I soon realized I was OK; I don’t think I turned red, I didn’t notice any of the students around me snickering, and the world didn’t end.

So I’m not sure if such an experience will suddenly turn me into someone who can’t stop talking (I seriously doubt it), but it did make me realize that it’s OK to be wrong, and I learned from my mistake.

I’ll now always know whether a p-series type function converges or diverges.

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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