Recently I was teaching a class of students, let's say on the topic of rubber ducks. I give the class some exercises related to rubber duckery and let them get to work. After a short while, I ask if there are any questions. Student A, one of my "hat boys" as I like to call them, replied.
Student A: "Well, it would be a lot easier for me to study rubber duckery if the bath was better implemented to support multiprocessor floatation devices and had a better internal physics model of how fluids move." (I'm just making things up here, but you get the idea).
I realize he's just trying to show off. But I know enough about the gobbledy gook he's spouting and can hold my own, so what I intended to say was something like, "Yes, blahblahblah is true, but this exercise is about rubber ducks, so don't worry so much about this other stuff." But before I can get a word in edgewise, Student B interrupts.
Student B: "Uh, no. Multiprocessor flotation devices were, like, so last year. Now the fluid dynamics blahblahblahblah."
Student A: "Uh, no! Blahblahblahblah."
Me: "Look, I - "
Student B: "Blahblahblahblah"
Me: "But if we just - "
Student A: "Well, actually, blahblahblah."
I keep trying to interrupt to tell them to quit chit chatting about this silly tangent and get back to work, but the two students keep ignoring me. The other students start snickering at the interchange. Finally, I put my hand on Student B's shoulder, because he's so engrossed in arguing with Student A he's not even making eye contact with me. And I say, "Let's talk about all of this later, and get back to rubber ducks."
Then Student B has the audacity to say, "But this is far more interesting."
Sigh. Clearly I need to go sign up for those assertiveness teaching classes. Or else start teaching undergrads who have less of a chip on their shoulder. Because I have to say, moments like these, I honestly wonder why I'm interested in traveling down this path toward being a professor. Having to deal with hundreds of smarty-pants kids all at once does just not appeal to me right now. In general I actually enjoy teaching, but not these moments.