Sit in the Front

"My most radical students sat in the back of the classroom." That's from Azar Nafisi's "Reading Lolita in Tehran. Robert Pirsig said the same thing of his classes. Is this really true? Do those brilliant students that are inherently subversive always sit in the back of the classroom?

I took an Art and Law class at the University at Buffalo. One morning the teacher came into class and said, "Today is your lucky day. Today we're going to talk about defamation of character. I'd like you to loosen yourselves up. Your job is to defamate my character. Go for it. I'll write them on the board as you say them." One of the students in the back of the classroom raised his hand half way in the air with a kind of "is this allowed" look on his face. He said, "You are an ambulance chaser."
"Good one, excellent." He wrote I Am an ambulance chaser on the board. This was obviously fun for him. Seeing that it was ok, a funny guy raised his hand and said, "You are the smelliest man I have ever met, and you have a large nose." The teacher laughed and said, "Yes I do smell," and wrote the second defamation attempt on the board. Another student raised their hand and said something banal which the teacher also wrote down on the board.

I raised my hand. "Josh, what do you have?"
I said, "Are you sure you want me to do this?" The classroom was anxious to hear me say something about his suit or his way of speaking.
He said, "Let er rip."
I got up from my seat, which was in the front of the room I might add, opened the classroom door and yelled down the packed hallways, "Professor B. rapes small children."

The classroom laughed, and Professor B. said, "Thank you, you've done it. Unfortunately you've done it extremely well." I don't think he really meant it. He talked about it in passing a couple of times in the next couple of weeks, and when it came time to grade our finals he gave me, well, he didn't give me anything. He said my final test was ungradable and said that to pass the course i would need to write a paper over Christmas break. I never wrote the paper, and I ended up failing the class.

The main point was, that within the confines of the classroom no one could possibly defamate his character. The definition of defamation is an intentionally false communication that causes injury to another person’s good name or reputation. It was simply impossible to do inside of the room. But once the comment was made public, the reputation he had changed for the worse.

The only reason I've relayed this story is to change your mind about sitting in the back. Sit in the front of the room, in striking distance. Those teachers are expecting you to sit in the back of the room and sketch in your notebook. You can still sketch just do it right in front of them.