Question Kari

Question Kari

by Kari Koehler

I want to get high marks for class participation, but I do not want to do the reading or attempt to understand any of the material. What do you suggest?

-Mr. Happy

Kari: So this week, I figured to fully represent how to get a good grade without doing anything, I’ll have someone else write my column. My resident expert is known for her rhetoric skills and her ability to come up with anything without doing any reading. I’m sure you’ll trust her advice as much as I do:

Are you kidding me? What’s the point of going to class if you don’t want to understand the material? For that matter, what’s the point of college? But, OK, it’s possible to get straight A’s without doing the reading. I can vouch. I’m that student, in almost every class on campus, who’s got something to say, without fail, every day – something intelligent, something clever, something perhaps even the professor had not thought of – and then has the gall to brag after class about how she didn’t even do the reading. Don’t you hate me? But have no fear; if you possess the right skills, you too, may one day become a genius bullshitter like me.

To begin with, you must, I repeat, must have confidence in what you say. Answers beginning with, “I don’t really know what I’m saying, but … ” or “Not sure, but is it … ?” or “What about … ?” RED FLAG. The professor’s going to immediately question your response. But if you state your comment/answer with firm conviction, the professor’s going to give you the benefit of the doubt. Unless, of course, you’re totally off in left field.

This leads me to my next point. You can’t spit out ridiculous statements you’ve got no idea about. Everything you say, even if it isn’t completely correct, needs to have an element of truth and known fact in it. This way, though you may be partially wrong, you’re never fully wrong. The good professor will pull on what you said that was right and ignore what was off the wall.

Which naturally leads into the most important factor in bullshitting: Know your professor! Know what kind of questions he or she asks. Know what he or she wants from students, and what he or she wants from their answers. Many professors honestly want you to regurgitate what they have fed you. Because of this, you need to pay attention in class. Before talking, make sure you listen for at least five whole minutes to each class. Have an active mind. Understand the professor, and draw upon previous knowledge. Profs love it when you bring in outside knowledge, or better yet, connections to last Tuesday’s class.

As a result, I actually get more from class when I don’t read. I talk more in class when I don’t read than when I do. Because I haven’t done the reading, usually I am able to think outside the box, see things others didn’t see, and my opinions of the subject are not pre-shaped by the conclusions of the readings.


Kari: We should be eternally grateful to Down-To-An-Art for her wisdom on getting by. Remember that practice makes perfect and quitters never win. I quit, and now I’m just another loser who does the reading.