When I was studying towards my undergraduate degree one of our tutors was a PhD student working in Shakespearean studies. She took my seminars in Early Modern literature, and my group of friends mocked her for nervously sitting at the front of the class, repeatedly stating ‘Shakespeare’s my guy!’ without ever really teaching us anything about Shakespeare… The assertion was never substantiated by any didactic content. Instead, it felt like this tutor had taken ‘student-led’ learning to heart, and our lessons were wandering drags of empty time. She let us command the conversations into complete tangents, and it was in this class that I met my first university girlfriend, made several long-term friends and for which I knew I need not prepare.
It was mean of us to mock this tutor and I guess she was nervous to stand in front of fifteen hungover teenagers and talk about Early Modern literature, but there was substance in our response to this method of teaching. It was not useful to know that this tutor was studying Shakespeare for her PhD. She was too much of a person, and not enough of a teacher. And so we gained nothing from her lessons, other than wondering at the void between our fumbled handling of these texts and her undisclosed accomplishment in Shakespearean studies.