People who raise their hands in class

Graphic by Jessica Mouton

Graphic by Jessica Mouton

Everyone has been in a class like this. The professor says something about the lesson, which is something that’s probably really important, and if you don’t write it down, you’ll miss the 20-point question about it on the final. However, one student is raising their hand. You know the person– they’ve been doing this all semester, and you’re absolutely baffled that they still have things to say this late in the semester.

They raise their hand and everyone stops; time moves still as their hand slowly shoots up. All pencils drop to the desks, and everyone either looks straight down to avoid second-hand embarrassment or they stare at the student, hoping that will be enough to convince them to not do this. The student raising their hand can’t be stopped, however, and they do the unthinkable: they relate the lesson to something personal to them that just comes across as a humble brag.

I’m a junior in college, and I thought I was done with this type of student. They come in many forms, but I believe them to all be of the same breed. This doesn’t affect a certain grade level, as I have met people in 300+ level classes who still don’t know how to just listen to the professor.

In my personal experience, most of them came from my English classes. The professor would talk about how you can find inspiration from anything, and that particular student finds it in his yearly trips to Alaska. This prompted no real discussion or participation, so I thought quietly to myself and continued writing. The student sitting across from me, however, felt the need to raise his hand and tell the professor and the class that his inspiration comes from flying his family helicopter to other parts of the country every year.

Other examples include him reading his papers aloud, talking about the struggle of getting kicked out of LSU for either his grades or the fact that all he did was party. After he was done and got no sympathy, he was mostly quiet the rest of the semester.

Other types include the unnecessary question-asker. The professor is lecturing, and then, said student raises their hand. They ask a question somewhere along the lines of “Is what you were discussing similar to *insert literally anything that doesn’t have any relation to what the professor was talking about*?” It’s really up to the professor how to handle the situation, but regardless, why ask a dumb question? I know there aren’t dumb questions, but when you ask a bunch that have nothing to do with the lesson and aren’t going to be on the exam, why ask? It’s not bettering anyone, and I don’t need to retain the information. It’s also not interesting, so I’m not going to retain it anyway. Please just email the professor.

The worst offender, however, has to be the person who just talks out loud, regardless of whether or not somebody cares. In an academic setting, if you want to speak, you raise your hand and wait to be called on. I could see how that isn’t the most effective way to speak, but it prevents chaos and is how American academics have worked for a hundred years. However, certain students in my classes have figured out that the rule doesn’t matter if they just speak loudly whenever they want. Why patiently wait for the professor to finish their thoughts or try and finish your own complete thought when you could just blurt out the first thing that comes up in your head?

Film, psychology, sociology and other classes like that are so bad for people like this. It’s frustrating to be in a class where it’s impossible to get a word in because some people talk over you. If you have something to say, please just raise your hand. America has done it for a hundred years, and it works.

I didn’t write this to shame people who try to get help from a professor. If you genuinely have a question about something you don’t understand, ask it. I guarantee somebody else might need to know as well. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Emailing a professor works well, too.

Next time you want to speak in class, raise your hand and make sure it’s relevant, please. Trust me, people notice.