(From Chapter 11: Acacia Road)
My first lecture was to teach introductory programming. I walked into the largest lecture room on the campus and found the steeply raked rows with three hundred seats filled and more students sitting or standing in the aisles; others came, looked around and left. The audience had not come to hear the fabled new professor of computer science, but because the course had been listed as an option in too many different degree programmes. Students from other departments felt knowing programming would be an advantage when applying for a job in almost any field.
I made my way to the raised podium and turned around to face what appeared like a vast and many-headed student ectoplasm ranged against me. It eventually quietened down when I put my hands up and clapped several times. Encouraged, I grinned, hoping to start with mutual conciliation about the crowded room. It glared silently back at me. We both waited to see how the lecture would proceed.
The ones at the back of the lecture room said they heard what I said if I spoke loudly but could not read what I wrote on the board unless in six-inch-high letters. My carefully prepared slides could be seen by only the lower half of the student mass. The class rumbled and groaned and I could do little more than pretend we should collectively overlook these minor misfortunes. The students were sure it was all my fault. ‘Complete chaos,’ said one loudly to his friend as he passed me, ‘complete lack of organization.’