Monday, December 17, 2007

A Seminar Gone Awry!

Yesterday, I attended a seminar for an Egyptian professor living and working in America. I should've blogged the event yesterday except for the fact that I got home around 9 and jump started the preparations of the Algebra section of today. Well, to make it short, I didn't attend the whole seminar due to the prior engagement of an "oral" exam I had to attend. What I learned from the seminar is not scientific as much as it is social.
First of all, the professor was late to show up, I think it's his fault, even if it wasn't. if he was available and got detained by formalities such as the head of the department "welcoming" him with tea and coffee, then the professor - being a staff member in the advanced world - should have pointed out the extreme importance of time and respect of appointments. If he himself was delayed, then he should have sent someone to notify the audience that the seminar will be delayed. We sat there, being used to never having anything happen on time (except for taking our attendance in a previous not so pleasant era!!!!) and we could've sat there for all it takes except for the fact I mentioned earlier that we had to conduct an "oral" exam.
The second fact was manifested when the professor began to talk; I know and I've seen many compulsive actions done by many people; including me, that can be words or gestures. He had a gesture that he kept repeating and it reminded me of someone I genuinely loathe; the gesture was him making a short "sometimes totally uncalled for" laugh after nearly every sentence. Oh my God how this irritated me to the extreme! For God's sake, why are you constantly laughing when you're talking science?! I know I'm being completely judgmental here since almost all people have such uncontrolled gestures, but I confess that such little things make me want to cry and hit my head to a wall. I have this notion that when we're young, we're energetic and hyperactive in many ways, and as we grow older and gain more wisdom, we grow to be quieter, more serene, and less inclined to use unnecessary body language. The fact that he "chose" laughing to be his "thing" pissed me off because it doesn't fit well with the seriousness of science. I'm not saying he should be gloomy and not make jokes or be funny, in fact, at some points he made excellent contact with the audience in the "fun" department. I'm just saying that when you're giving a presentation you should plan every word and every gesture and even every joke.
The third fact was his "unreasonable" aggressiveness towards attendants who didn't follow his lead or those who challenged his proposed model. He didn't handle discussions with courtesy, he was even sometimes impolite and embarrassed some of the audience, and sometimes "forced" the participation. I couldn't believe this could come out of someone who's that experienced and who lectured in so many universities. Even if he didn't want to answer a question or didn't "know" how to answer a question, he could've got out without embarrassing himself or the other part asking. Furthermore, if wanted to activate the concept of brainstorming, he should not do it with brute force, and when someone does participate with ideas, he shouldn't take them lightly even if they're wrong, when he takes these ideas lightly or attacks them, no one would want to participate and he'll have to talk to himself.
The forth point was his constant glorification of his experience and knowledge. I'm all for stating one's experience so that people can learn something out of it, but I hate people who talk about their experience and skills as unique and grand things that other people should cherish. I "know" your achievements so don't brag! And if I don't know then maybe I don't want to know! After all, I learned that when you're impressed with someone's talk about himself, this most probably means he "empty" inside. I'm not saying that he does not deserve to be known for his achievements, just please don't state it yourself, others will want to know out of their admiration of what you "say".
I wish I'd attended the whole seminar, maybe then I would've come out with some positive "points"; at least about the man if not about the science he was discussing, but maybe the points already made are good enough pointers for me to learn positive things from, or maybe I'm "programmed" to see the bad side of everything!

1 comment:

helghareeb said...

Permission to add link within my blog to this entry ? It is really amazing, Seyam told me u got the guy right, and after I completed reading it I can say: Yes, you got it so right.

By the way, I believe it is something inside us, we are Egyptians and will be Egyptians, even if we stayed billion years in no matter where, am I mistaken ? ;)

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