I did not get a great mark in my college history class my freshman year. It had a little to do with my study habits, it had more to do with my lack of participation in the classroom. I knew that a portion of our mark came from our participation and if I got better than a goose egg on mine the instructor was being generous. So many opportunities to look stupid.
My senior year I took two history classes, Ancient Israel with Dr. Paige and Church History with Mr. Kelly. I determined to participate in the first and did a lot of reading before the semester for the second. Talking in front of the class was the big challenge.
Out of the gate, I was looking for the right question and I thought I'd found the perfect safe one when Dr. Paige asked the class, “What time does evening start?” I think he was genuinely surprised to see my hand shoot straight up and of course he selected me to answer.
“Right and what happens at six o'clock?” Now I was on the spot. This wasn't in our assigned reading and I knew that seeing it in TV Guide wasn't the answer he was looking for.
So I replied, “I don't know. Suppertime?”
The look on his face said it all. He was thinking he shouldn't have asked me because he knew I'd say something stupid like that. He finished with a somewhat exasperated, “No! Sunset!”
In my defense, I'm Canadian. How often does sunset actually happen anywhere near six o'clock? Where I grew up during the summer, it went down after nine o'clock and in the dead of winter it was close to four. I know it all averages out to about six o'clock (discounting daylight savings time) but I can't see how that would have been automatically impressed on my mind.
I did survive that incident and forged on ahead. Dr. Paige and I developed a treasured professor/student relationship. He liked teaching and liked his students. I know he was proud of my efforts and quickly picked up on where I could make a valuable verbal contribution to the class. We had several memorable conversations outside of the classroom as well. He appreciated my sense of humour, which sometimes got me into trouble. He loved the kiddie sandbox shovel I sent to one of his archeology students.
Years after college I was saddened at the news his passing from cancer. The world lost a very kind man and gifted teacher.