Pipe up or please get out of my seminar

What’s the point in going if you’re not going to say anything?


Every other day I am forced to sit in a room with eleven or twelve other people to discuss whatever we’re studying that week. And half don’t say a single word for the whole, awkward 50 minutes.

Really, why do you even come?

Wouldn’t you rather be back in bed watching an entire series on Netflix in 24 hours? Or actually doing some real work rather than wasting away your university years silently staring at the clock or out the window?

A seminar is not a lecture. You are not there to sit and listen to your tutor talk, but to be prompted by your tutor into your own meaningful discussion. If you have nothing meaningful to say you clearly don’t love or care about your subject so why on earth are you spending £9000 a year to learn more about it?

And anyway, the essence of a humanities degree is all about the exploration of different ideas and viewpoints, so if you don’t see the point of a seminar, maybe you should be doing a different degree and leave us to enjoy ours.

I couldn’t care less how much effort you put into your degree until you decide to waste my time and the time of everyone who does contribute.

pipe up or get out

Pipe up or get out

You’re not just making life difficult for yourself, but for everyone else there. You are sitting there in your bubble of ‘I’m too cool/hungover/bored to contribute’ and stealing everyone else’s ideas. And even more than being just plain unfair, and frustratingly lazy, you’re making the whole seminar awkward. We’ve all been there, when our seminar tutor, armed with his beautifully well prepared handout, asks a question, and the entire room sits in painfully awkward silence until one of the few people who make the effort to speak are forced to give an idea. Again.

If you turn up at the seminar every week, you’re clearly fussed about your attendance, or maybe scared of that dreaded email to your parents if you miss two in a row, or even just scared of confrontation with your tutor next time you do turn up. So if your such a wimp, stop trying to act cool in seminars by sitting in silence, as if you have something way more important to be doing. Just don’t bother coming. Don’t worry, we won’t miss your entirely boring and useless presence one bit.

sharing is caring guys

Sharing is caring guys

By refusing to talk in seminars you are hindering the education of everyone else there. You undermine the hard work that your lovely tutor has put in to preparing the seminar, and slyly scribble down all the ideas of the people who do speak, without offering any of your own. Why should we, the people who can be bothered to engage, be forced to conduct a whole 50 minute discussion that is meant to be carried out by a whole classful?

And forgive my harsh attitude if you are genuinely too shy to speak, but no one is going to laugh or criticize you for saying anything. Everyone is in that room, or should be, for the same purpose: to help each other learn.

Your seminar tutors will write a report on you at the end of the year. And they’re hardly going to praise your enthusiasm, passion for the subject, teamwork and communication skills, if all you have to contribute is your name on a register and the occasional nod of indifferent agreement.