Get beside the bright guy if you want to get ahead

Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

There used to be a pattern to the geography of the old school year; the first-day rush for desks at the back of the classroom – ideally directly behind the biggest and widest guy in the class – followed by the slow, inexorable relocation to the front so you’d forever be in the line of sight of the vigilant teacher.

The number of students who would willingly sit at the front was limited to two very specific categories – the incredibly short-sighted and the future doctors.

The others wanted the option of taking a little rest during proceedings; a task that could only be carried out from the comfort of the backbenches.

But every time you were caught opting out of things – or talking to a fellow castaway – you were made switch places with someone who had deliberately or inadvertently sat further forward.

The ultimate irony was when those brainboxes who wanted to be right in front of the blackboard – remember, this was pre-whiteboard and, for the most part, overhead projectors – found himself moved to the back of the room because of the sins of others.

Sometimes you were punished through sheer bad luck.

I recall an English class that ended in the perp walk to the principal because I’d had the misfortune to look out the window and see two dogs doing what they do to make pups – but that completely distracted me from the travails of Cordelia and her sisters in King Lear.

Sitting at the back of the class didn’t mean you were happy to wallow in your ignorance; we’re talking about a room for 30 students, not a lecture hall for 400 – so even the most softly-spoken of teachers could be heard by the back wall.

But why would you volunteer to soldier in the frontline if you could leave the risk of shellfire to the others?

It’s way too late to discover this now, but it turns out we had it all wrong – because a recent survey established that, if you want to do better, you’re best seated by the class swot.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.