Etiquette for the Classroom, Lab, and Presentations

I received a mass email from my lab professor yesterday, subject: lab etiquette. This is the first one I’ve received from a professor titled such, and it proved to be a…delightful read?

Some background. At the beginning of this semester, this professor gave an introductory lecture where he emphasized the idea that most people don’t like chemistry because they don’t understand it fully. This is one of my favorite ideas, and to have someone else talk about it was weirdly delightful. I wanted to stand up and shout YEA! I AGREE! THIS! (I mean, I didn’t because I think that’d be rude, and also I try to minimize my social bumbles.. 😀 😀 ).
For example, I often think about how I couldn’t have cared less about football my first 3 years at university, and as soon as I started to put a little effort into learning the rules and players, it became…fun. One Saturday, one roommate and I watched 12. hours. of. football. Completely absorbed.
Confession time: science has never been my favorite. Thermodynamics, kinetics, electromagnetism, Lord – Newton’s stupid laws. Organic chemistry changed that, because I finally started to actually intuitively understand chemical bonds, electrons, carbons, etc. And mechanisms became (and are still) one of my favoritestestest things to study and learn. Science, in my opinion, is so hard because you could forever keep delving into smaller and smaller quantities to “fully” understand phenomena. You have to put aside definitions for words used differently in everyday use (acceleration? gravity?) and learn completely new, mathematically correct definitions. I realized that organic chemistry was the level of “small” that made sense to me, that made other biological ideas make sense to me. Of course, many ideas still can be further explained and predicted through ideas learned in general chemistry, but I found my sweet spot.
So, to wrap up this long tangent, people don’t like what they don’t understand, and it’s only more frustrating when one does try to understand and x still refuses to be understood. Just keep trying, think about things in a new way, and ask people for their perspectives.

Anyways, after reading this email from my professor (haha, remember the actual subject of my post? It’s about, oh, 3oo words back 😉 ), I had that weirdly delightful feeling of ah, yes, this is a wonderful point again. In summary, he says that texting while he lectures is quite rude, as is falling asleep, especially when he is standing 3 feet away (there was a certain splash of sass that really amped up the delight factor). It really does suck a lot to give a presentation to a bunch of zoned out zombies, and I can’t imagine having to do that several times a week. After putting together my own presentations, I’ve realized that a lecture is more or less an informal presentation. And yea, you get paid, but really, you are trying to inform and teach.

I think that these rules of etiquette really do help me in the end, because it forces me to pay attention at least 50% of the time. And learning for even that much is better than 0%. So really, it’s beneficial for all!

I’ll tune back in when lab prof gives more sass, though, because it’s quite delightful.


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