Based on my extensive experience as a student way back in college, not so many professors can pull off a dramatic walk-out quite impeccably. Most of them either overdo the actual walk-out making it more comic than serious thereby missing the intent and losing the message, or nuance it too much (probably in the hopes of doing it ‘intellectually’) that students fail to perceive that their professor just did a walk-out.
A professor should neither exaggerate as most students nowadays are constantly exposed to things being blown out of their usual proportion, nor should he be too subtle as I have a lingering suspicion that most of students of our time have been wired by the contemporary world not to sense or feel sarcasm, irony, paradox, oxymoron, and other literary devices of similar category, a result of repeated non-use of their right parahippocampal gyrus, a part of the brain that is also absent among people suffering from Down’s Syndrome.
So walking-out must still be governed, as in life’s other aspects, by moderation because, trite as it may sound, treading in moderation still remains the order of the day.
But the question How is it properly done then? remains.
Last Friday, I orchestrated my first ever walkout from a class I teach in Ateneo.
A walk-out should first and foremost be triggered by a reasonable stimulus/i–it can be noise, high ambient temperature and high humidity, the students’ unruly behavior (to understate matters), an LCD projector that fails to show any image other than a mocking blue screen or a major technical malfunction, or a combination of several of these.
I must emphasize that redundant warnings should have also been issued, or that all possible means to manage the situation must have already been exhausted, only then can a walk-out be done or justified. If not, students will view this as the professor’s hubris, his arbitrariness, and a mere manifestation of his immaturity (something that he should have already outgrown upon being recruited to teach in a university, and a reputable one at that).
After repeated warnings, a few second of silence is needed to gain enough buffer time, but this is merely used to buy enough time or to establish a quiet but heavy atmosphere. Here, the professor makes a crucial decision whether to calmly gather his things and leave unceremoniously or to throw his ammunition of bloody expletives at the void before him that separates him from the rest of the class before he leaves unceremoniously. Although, expletives, are inelegant even if used sparingly in most of the instances, some teachers I know way back my student days in UP can exclaim vulgarities with precision, accuracy and undeniable class notwithstanding the drama.
Most, however, fell flat and flop. But whatever path the professor takes is bound to define him forever in his students’ minds.
Finally, the climax, the walking-out itself, should be done with surgical speed. Any delay is unforgivable; sauntering is a sign of indecisiveness. The professor should do it with a lightning speed without having to look like he’s in a hurry or running. It should have an effect like he’s never been there at all, that he was an apparition.
I’d suggest this be done not at all or only if very necessary. The effects of walking out are found in the extreme ends of the spectrum. Either he’ll get what he wants, if done with dignity, or he’ll lose everything, if done sloppily, to say the least.