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Do class clowns exist in grad school?


InquilineKea
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I missed them from grade school. There aren't really any in college (although you might have funny professors). But maybe they exist in a few small classes where a student has rapport with a professor? (which might be more likely to happen in grad school?) I'm actually sort of the class clown in one of the grad-lvl courses I'm taking right now.

Edited by InquilineKea
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I missed them from grade school. There aren't really any in college (although you might have funny professors). But maybe they exist in a few small classes where a student has rapport with a professor? (which might be more likely to happen in grad school?) I'm actually sort of the class clown in one of the grad-lvl courses I'm taking right now.

Good question! I guess academic folks just like to separate work and play--work hard, play hard, you know? It reminds me of how childish professors would get in the buffet line at conferences. There was this one guy carrying fistfuls of coconut shrimp before frolicking to his hotel room like a little kid at a candy store. (Oh wait, that was me.) I really do like people to loosen up and mix work and fun, but if people aren't comfortable with sipping bourbon and getting their freak on in class, I think that's cool. Some people's style is just a little more reserved.

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They exist, though I feel their overt behaviors are replaced by snarky and sarcastic remarks (which still elicits the same laughter from me).

This is true. The students who joke around like grade school kids learn quickly that the professors (at least in my program) write these students off immediately and pay little attention to their comments. This makes it increasingly difficult to get good grades in seminar courses. Consequently, there are a few students (including me) who can't help but making comments to make the class laugh, but you need to be clever about it and do it in moderation.

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One of the best professors I've ever had, from a community college mind you, was the very typical "aging hippie." He was so fiercely passionate about political science and commanded everyone's respect but at the same time he came to class in an old sweater or Hawaiian shirt and Birkenstocks, half way through the class he'd be sitting on his desk with the Birkenstocks not on his feet anymore. He's a phD but insisted on us calling him by his first name or if we just couldn't resist we could get away with Dr. Tom. He was funny, clever, sarcastic and just a blast but also real serious about the subject matter. I took 3 classes with him and he was the one that did most of the clowning...well it was really more of a snarky biting sarcasm that usually got a laugh, or at least kept our attention. He demanded a lot of us and he was the perfect balance between amusing and serious. That's a rare kind of professor. I'll never forget him because he turned me on to that general area of academia, before taking his classes I didn't really know what I wanted to do and I was just coming off of a fizzled attempt at Biology at a private 4-year school. Now all these years later, I'm talking about 8 years here, he just wrote me a letter of recommendation for my dream International Development program at my dream school...to which I was admitted off of the waitlist. I sent him an email letting him know, he hasn't responded yet, but it just happened, I think I'm going to send him a real thank you card...this is the kind of person you stay in touch with.

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  • 1 month later...

Yes.

The price of laughter can be getting tagged in an end of semester evaluation from a professor, so if you're going to be snarky, it may help to be a strong contributor in class.

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I'll answer with an example. A couple of incoming students in my program thought it would be a good idea to bring a keg to the TA bootcamp meetings. They lost their TA positions soon after, and I'm kind of surprised that they weren't kicked out of the program, if only for a semester.

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Really? Our department would have loved the initiative of bringing beer.

But then, we have alcohol at all of our departmental functions (seminars, etc) so I'm sure the departmental/university culture is part of it.

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