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  • Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

Water Seeks Its Own Level

In a classroom I always used to sit in the front row, as near to the door as possible. That seat let me hear and see the teacher, yet let me leave immediately and unimpeded when the class was over. Decades ago, when I certified to teach sociology in an Arizona community college district, I had to take a “class” in teaching, during which we also underwent some pencil and paper assessment tests. My Master’s degree in sociology already qualified me to teach even above the community college level, up to the undergraduate university level, but this is how Arizona did it, so I showed up to participate and get certified, although the hefty tuition fee was irksome. The class had presenters from multiple disciplines and I actually enjoyed seeing teaching from so many different perspectives.

When I entered the classroom, I went to take my usual seat up front near the door, but I saw two bright-eyed men in the corner back row who appealed for reasons I did not stop to think about, I just went and sat between them. We chatted while the classroom filled up, and sure enough these fellows were my sort, they were intelligent, humorous, and studious. I was a little sorry when the all-day class started, but soon forgot about my fellow students as I worked through the day’s lessons. The physiological evaluations were a surprising component but I like most tests and enjoyed those too. I do not recall if that old saw about “Do you like to line up your pencils?” was on it.” but there were plenty of dubious questions of that sort. (Yes. But just what does this mean to the test designers, a neurotic preoccupation or idle fiddling with the tools of the trade while thinking?) At the end of the day, the instructors gathered in a huddle at the front of the classroom to go over our test results. They asked if we would like to see our psychological profiles. Well, sure, at least no one said no. They handed them out, like fortune cookies that would read “hire” or “don’t hire”. When they got to the last three profiles, the profiles of we three in the corner back row, they started laughing and looking at us. Surely that was not their idea of a hilarious “don’t hire”? But they said, don’t mind us laughing, it is just funny that the three of you, who have such very similar psychological profiles would have chosen to sit together. We thought it surprising too. Apparently, we three were the only “snowflakes” in the room, a term which had a different meaning back then. To those instructors, snowflake meant someone who functioned from a centric mode, with a radially symmetrical psychological profile. Something like a snowflake reflects the internal symmetrical order of its water molecules, apparently the test profiles of we three balanced evenly between the different styles of learning and performing, forming a psychological snowflake. We had sat together like water finding its own level.

Caption: Water Seeks Its Own Level

by Annmarie Throckmorton 2018

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