The Dickinsonian

Are Fun Facts Effective Ways to Introduce Students, or a Burden?

Kristina Rodriguez ‘19, Opinion Editor

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As a senior fresh off of syllabus week, I feel the need to get something off my chest. I think my biggest pet peeve has become the dreaded “Let’s all share a fun fact about us” and general awkward introductions that every professor asks us to do. This is not to attack professors who do this by any means because I do see the value both for the students and for the professor to get to know each other so as to cultivate a safe space for a more cohesive learning environment. This does not change the fact that these introduction activities give me a bit of anxiety. I literally spend the entire time up until it’s my turn thinking about what I am going to say about myself to make me sound interesting and “fun”. 

While I am thinking of what I’m going to say, I don’t even hear or process what my peers are saying and don’t remember anyone’s name whatsoever. I also turn red and sweat profusely as I introduce myself so that’s not a good time. 

Personally, I feel like I remember people and their names more by what they contribute during class discussions or when we do work in smaller groups. It can be a bit daunting and honestly, sometimes just plain draining to introduce yourself to a whole class of maybe 15-25 other students three times a day for a whole week ( I may be exaggerating a bit, but you get my point). 

I feel like, in general, I have done enough ice breaker activities and said enough fun facts to last me a lifetime. Like, how do you define what is “fun” about yourself? The whole ordeal stresses me out. After a while, you just run out of things to say or maybe you get caught in a lull in excitement in your life. 

All I’m saying is that from my own experience, while sometimes during these introduction activities I am able to share a laugh or end up having fun, I don’t think they are actually effective in getting me to better get to know people in that type of setting or situation. Again, I do acknowledge that learning people’s names and building rapport in a classroom are important, but I feel that this really happens when class discussions begin alongside group projects and group conversations. 

I doubt anything is going to change, not that I am expecting or requesting that it does, because introductions need to happen but I do think that it should be kept in mind that some people genuinely have social anxiety and this is not always the best way to solve that or help the person overcome it. Short, sweet, and simple introductions are ideal in my opinion. 

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Are Fun Facts Effective Ways to Introduce Students, or a Burden?