A Monotone One

Being a college student, I am constantly exposed to a wide array of public speakers. Most of these people are professors, as I'm not exactly guilty of attending very many extra-curricular seminars or colloquiums. I see my share, but most of the speakers I am exposed to are generally those that show up in my classes.

Over the past four years, I thought I had seen just about everything. I've had exceptional teachers, who are animated and thrilled to be able to impart their knowledge to our impressionable minds. I have had boring and seemingly lifeless professors, who seem to view teaching as an annoyance, but only do it because otherwise they would not be able to do research.

Many teachers of the latter variety speak in monotone, and so are very talented at putting students to sleep. The constant drone of voice is great for inducing drowsiness. It's amazing.

I have had my share of monotone instructors, and have just accepted it as something that is part of the whole college experience. Most teachers I can manage to get by and understand. Despite the monotone, they manage to use otherwise appropriate language.

Yesterday, however, I was granted a new and extraordinary opportunity. A professor who had been absent so far this year due to surgery was finally able to return and begin teaching us. She was very nice, and seems very knowledgeable. She has the unfortunate quality, though, of being the single most monotone person--well, lecturer--I have ever met.

Hers was a monotone beyond drone. Her voice seemed to become one with the room, and it coexisted in some sick symbiotic relationship with it. She would cover topics, and go into detail about them. However, I was unable to tell when she changed the subject. There was no change in inflection of her voice, no pause in her speech, to alert me to a shift of topic. Everything blended from one topic to the next.

Being a reasonable instructor, she also wanted us as a class to have some input. I always appreciate this, and yesterday was no exception. It was when she asked questions of us, however, that I realized I was not alone in my struggle to comprehend what she was saying. No one could tell that she had actually asked a question, because again, there was no change in her inflection or voice quality. It was not until after she was silent for a matter of several seconds that anyone realized that she was awaiting our responses. And at that point, everyone scrambled and strained their brains trying to figure out what she could possibly be asking of us.

Next week, I wonder if I will be more accustomed to her teaching personality, and thus more able to be attentive in class. But who knows. Only time will tell.