Last night was mid-term exam night in the class I teach as an adjunct to architectural students. Bright young minds all, the difference between those who succeed and those who don't has more to do with differences in maturity levels than with differences in intelligence. The seats are the typical lecture hall kind, much like movie theater seating except with those mini-desktops that fold down when you're not using them. They're configured for right-handed people, and are too small to be of any real use regardless of which hand you write with.
Anyway, students were pretty gallant last night in their efforts to use these horrible mini-desks to manage their textbooks, notebooks and calculators along with their exam papers. One student caught my eye. She'd started in the front row but a few minutes into the exam decided to sit cross-legged on the floor in front of the seat she'd been sitting in, giving her plenty of room. (This position would have someone my age wearing a heating pad for days, but at her age you can still do things like that.) Seeing her sitting on the floor made me think of that scene from Men In Black, the one where a group of applicants for the MIB job are struggling to fill out forms without anything hard to lean down on, and Will Smith just pulls over a small table that was nearby.
There's no doubt in my mind this student is going to go far. That is, as long as no jaded professor or employer succeeds in teaching this freedom of thought - which I confess to being envious of - out of her.
There are two great feelings you can get in front of a classroom. One is seeing young minds learn something from you. The other is realizing how much you can learn from them right back.