I’ve been attending an undergraduate class at McGill… just to give me some exposure of the workings of undergrad classes (for comparison sake, to India) and also to gain some “fill in the blank” knowledge for my field.

However, Just yesterday, the discussion in class was about Cantwell Smith, and the comments by students in the class (including by the teacher), seemed to miss the later movement of Cantwell Smith’s academic journey. I felt Smith was being misunderstood and so I spoke up, giving my perspective of what I thought Smith was moving towards… which I felt would help us understand him better if we viewed his overall programme.

I was cut short by the teacher… and then, the teacher said that while he appreciated that I knew Cantwell Smith… I was, simply put, wrong (he didn’t say it like that, but that’s basically what he meant).

I couldn’t help but feel hurt/upset… especially since I still felt I was right. (and of course, what would all these younglings in the class think of me!!!)

After class I met the teacher (who has been amazingly nice to allow me to attend in the first place). And he said he agreed with me… !!! just disagreed with my emphasis on one point (which I actually didn’t make).

Hmm. I then realised that perhaps I did in fact mis-speak… and it was not the appropriate space to talk about the details of Cantwell Smith… as if it was an open discussion about Smith… in an under-grad class that is still simply looking at the basics. So, in effect, while my position was not really wrong (in my opinion)… it was wrong to speak out in a way that was inappropriate to the context of the class.

What’s interesting in all this is that similar classroom dynamics play out in Indian universities/colleges as well!