I met my new seminar group this morning. Eight worried and harassed-looking 18-year-olds, experiencing what could well be the most hectic, tiring, and disorienting weeks of their lives so far. And then they get to meet me.
I suppose I must have attended such a meeting myself 5 years ago when I was in their shoes, but my first week memories are lost to a haze of extremely cheap red wine, a nasty case of early autumn flu, and frantically running around trying to track down my lost student loan.
They all gathered round, smiling meekly. I asked a few general questions, just to get people talking, but they all seemed a bit too terrified to speak. Have you ever tried addressing a group of people who won't answer back? After a while, it gets a little disconcerting. What I found I started to do was to focus my attention on just one person, as if I was having a conversation. Poor Cool Stoner Guy: he looked quite panicked as I seemingly kept solely addressing him, by proxy electing him to the position of Group Spokesperson.
It was time, I decided, to have some fun.
"Right, well," I said rubbing my hands together. "We may as well start as we mean to go on. This is the third day of your three years of hard labour here in this godforsaken department at this godless university, so we might as well set an essay!"
Looks of despair flashed across all of their faces, but to their credit they were too polite to outwardly groan.
"So how's about... um.... ok. 'Advances in neuroscience will, in the near future, render psychology a futile area of study. Discuss.' So, if you could get 3000 words to me by a week today, that'd be great."
There were a few glum and, dare I say, petrified looks as they diligently began jotting down this soul destroying title. I let them get about halfway before I let on I was taking the piss.
5 weeks ago