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Backbenchers – The Cool Guys?

Image Courtesy : http://www.smilepls.com

Name one film focussing on classroom scenes that didn’t show backbenchers to be “cool.”
Are you thinking of an answer to that question? Fret not. There might be a few. Especially the ones that focus on the “studious geniuses.” But that’s all immaterial.

You see, I was a frontbencher for most of my academic life. Not always the first bench, but at least the first few. Preferably.

What? I’m uncool? Pssstt! πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹

That did change in college a few times because of two reasons :

1. There were no fixed classrooms, let alone seating spots, in college.

2. I thought, what the heck! Let’s sample this backbencher crap! You know, look cool and all that jazz.

But honestly, I have always attended classes to learn from the lecture. If I wanna chill, why bother attending? I would rather roam around the campus than sit at the back and be judged by the faculty. This was one of the main reasons why I preferred the front benches. The back ones mostly had some parallel agendas going on.

Courtesy : http://www.indiatimes.com

And then we have the movies! Take 3 Idiots for example. I loved the novel it was partly based on (had no idea its style would turn out to be Chetan Bhagat’s infamous MO) and liked the film’s basic idea too (“Pursue excellence, and success will follow, pants down”). But I think a lot of what they showed was utter BS. Honest to God!
I could do a scene-by-scene deconstruction but that’s not what we are after here. The heroes of that movie, like a lot of other films, are backbenchers. People who are enlightened. People who know there’s more to life than books, rote learning and grades. People who are popular, who have more enjoyment (like the kids in the image at the top). People who are cool! And the frontbencher is the total opposite of all these, in addition to being a boring, vindictive, antisocial, sycophantic douchebag, the quintessential bad guy of the non-action movie. That, for lack of a better word, is unfair.

Sure, you would find a many people who are great successes in life despite being backbenchers and average students. You might also have come across WhatsApp forwards where everyone from Steve Jobs to Bill Gates to Ratan Tata praises the adaptability and innovative spirit of the backbencher, the “jugaad“of the Indian. See this image for instance :

And there will be an equal number of people who made it despite being the unimaginative ones who sit in the front rows, the ones derided by the movies.
What am I getting at, you say? This weird fascination movies have of showing last bench students blossoming into leaders and innovators and front benchers grovelling before them, when life eventually happens. Sure, there are cases like that. But that situation isn’t in the league of ” The Sun Rises In The East,” or even, “Manchester United have a red and white jersey,” you know, Universal truth and all that.

Bill Gates is one of the most, if not the most, famous college dropouts (Harvard). Still, he asks students not to be like him. This is what he has to say :

β€œAlthough I dropped out of college and got lucky pursuing a career in software, getting a degree is a much surer path to success,” he writes.


β€œCollege graduates are more likely to find a rewarding job, earn higher income, and even, evidence shows, live healthier lives than if they didn’t have degrees. They also bring training and skills into America’s work force, helping our economy grow and stay competitive.”


He adds, β€œIt’s just too bad that we’re not producing more of them.”

Click here for the full post.

People can, and do, succeed from all sorts of positions. And the frontbencher we so choose to mock in our cinema are the ones who wish to pay attention in class. Or, if I’m to be humble, the stupid ones who feel that they’d not be able to grasp what the faculty is teaching if they sat at the back of the class. And no, they aren’t all mean either. Like all stereotypes, this is also a clichΓ©. Good people are not an exclusive privilege of the back benches, just as grades aren’t the sole domain of the front rows.

More than anything, what such depictions manage to do is influence young kids (school-going and collegians alike) that it is “cool” to sit at the back and not pay attention to what’s being taught. While I accept the theory of “to each his own,” I find it a little difficult to understand why he/she should even be in the class if there is no intention to learn?

Does this feel like a rant? Let me clear the cobwebs (if there are any!). Yes, it is. All kinds of people work hard and succeed. And no, if you skip labs and lectures (like the 3 Idiots), your faculty won’t always grace you with high grades. More likely, they’ll make it a point to teach you a lesson to be regular in the class. Being curious is okay, being disrespectful isn’t.

And oh, I understand that people sitting on different benches (both front and back) is a logical requirement. Not everyone can sit in the same place, on top of each other. 😝

Rant over!
Thanks for bearing with me till the end.

Where do/did you sit in your classes? What’s your opinion on the topic? Let’s have a conversation in the comments.

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29 thoughts on “Backbenchers – The Cool Guys?

  1. Ajit, the nerdy NERD πŸ˜‰ We had rotation in school, so had the best of all directions and places and views of the blackboard, At college, was always at the back (unless the cute girl called you to sit next to her- that was the exception), in the church I am seated at the back, so also in the bus…I like being at the back..the view is always better. When i’m driving my car, of course am at the front…can’t drive from the back..now can I?
    Can’t say I fit into the ‘cool guys club’ but at least I had some good memories and yes lots of stuff happens at the back…if girls were with you at the back, even better. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha ha, Nerdy Nerd doesn’t sound quite right. 😝😝
      Your school system was wonderful. And yes, I can understand your compulsions in college. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
      I like sitting at the back in a group for the view but in buses it gets tough, given our bumpy roads. So I prefer to sit somewhere in the middle, getting the best of both worlds.
      In the end, memories are what we take from these experiences. That and the life lessons we get. And yes, lots of “stuff” happens at the back. πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting rant and one that kept me glued to the last word.
    While it is true that frontbenchers and backbenchers may be overused cliches by now, it can also be noticed that most of the frontbenchers aka the attentive and the sincere ones go on to do well in life in terms of jobs, emotional quotient and leading healthier lifestyles. On the other hand, only one or two of the backbenchers in a batch make it so good that they are eulogised.
    Cool quotient apart, there is a greater chance to do well after college if you sit in the front and follow through on what you are supposed to be doing in the classes.
    As for me, I have been a front bencher for most of the time and a backbencher for ‘sometime’ and I sure enjoyed both the phases very much πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the kind words.
      Your comment has been spoken like a true frontbencher, taking bullets for all of us. 😝
      I honestly didn’t know that being one from the front benches has so many benefits. But yes, the few back guys that make it are held up as proof of the whole lot being better than others.
      Same pinch there (for being a frontbencher) πŸ˜‚.
      And yes, I can understand that seating at the back for a change must have been wonderful for you, like a guilty pleasure. 😝

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was never a backbencher, mostly out of the fear that the professor would target me to answer some of his questions… other obvious reason was I am short.. so back in school i would always be seating in the first few rows if not the first! I agree lot of fun happens on the last bench.. once I was sitting on the last bench in the coaching class and the prof was teaching something really boring… the coaching class name was “Ramchandra” so i scribbled on the desk…”Ramchandra & Sitachandni” and me and my friend had a hearty laugh. I couldnt wipe it off later on becauze by then the ink had fastened. Next day, we progressed from last to second last bench… and prof had given some assignment… while all of us were working on the assignment, the prof ws taking rounds… he happened to come to that bench and sit there, thus getting the view of the entire class from behind. As smart as I was, i had finished my assignment was faster than others and i was just making some random patterns on my notebook… and the prof happened to talk to me, he said… “Kya aaj kal ke bacche… kuch bhi likh dete hain.. Ramchandra and Sitachandni” and he could barely hide the amusement that comment brought. woooaahh… i did almost an entire post in you comments section… but i just recollected it after so long… 15 years may be? πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for the wonderful words and the detailed comment.
      Imagine sitting at the back and being bombarded with questions every single week. Oh, and trying to peer at the board over the heads of the others, just imagining that is funny. Ha ha. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
      This anecdote is comical. Lol! Good that he found the scribbling funny. Otherwise he would have asked you to stand outside the class in a “murgi” pose, similar to the kids in this post. 😝😝
      Glad to know that this post brought back a 15 year-old memory in your mind. And knowing the story was funny. 😁

      Like

  4. Nice words bhaiya… i have been both but mostly backbencher in schools n college and i believe that they come out to be more creative and innovative further in their lives.. it has always been fun being an average student and living life along with the burden of studies😜 ..coz at its said ” a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do”..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Burden of studies. Lol! πŸ˜πŸ˜πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

      As I said in the post, to each his own. You found creativity and innovation from back in the class, good for you. 😝

      And yes, that last line is quite true. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

      Like

  5. this post refreshed my memories from school days and of college days as well. I have been backbencher in the classes where I can have fun without getting noticed by teacuer.I have been in front bencher in classes of my interest and in which teachers taught us subject with interest and their examples like English , physics ,etc. i would like to quote a proverb -“when the student is ready , the teacher will appear ” ; so basically its a stereotype created by us of sitting positions in class being cool or ultracool . he he . one more thing I would like to mention here that is that I had made many pranks on front benches compared to last benches because I knew that teacher expects mischiefs at the last benches. thanks bhaiya for writing this and reminding of good old days of learning .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He he. Well, that does support the point that we can have fun on the front benches too.
      Glad to know that this post brought back memories for you. 😊

      Thanks for the kind words.

      Like

  6. Haha, your rant was interesting! πŸ˜€ And of course made lot of sense! πŸ™‚ Was this a result of any frustrating incident with back benchers during your lecture? πŸ˜› Our movies love to showcase the lead cast as backbenchers as they are stereotyped as the ‘entertainers’ and because frontbenchers are stereotyped as ‘boring’! As you said there is no truth in being successful depending on your seating in a class without actually working for anything. Not every back bencher is successful, but to be honest every front bencher will definitely graduate, at least without backlogs. πŸ™‚ The world always talks about those ‘handful’ back benchers who get successful later in life.
    I was a front bencher throughout my schooling due to my height. Later during my engineering, I was a back bencher, as all others were occupied and I had no choice, lol. But I was definitely not the cool types. Seating never mattered to me, but the existing notion of back benchers not paying attention, made lecturers target me always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. No it wasn’t a product of any frustrating incident. I always think movies are biased against the front-benchers, like being one of the attentive ones in a classroom is a sin. And the stereotypes aren’t the truth.
      And yes, in all probability, frontbenchers would always graduate easily. Maybe even get jobs.
      Height can be an issue in schools, yes. You had fixed seats in college too? πŸ™„
      And yes, it must have been interesting to be the target of the faculty. 😝😝😝

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ya, but I used to hate being asked questions just for the sake of being seated in the last bench! And yeah, people used to choose their seats during the first day and the same seating was followed throughout the semester! I enjoyed sitting in the last bench, as I had the view of the whole class, as to who is doing what, lol πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well, that is par for the course, I guess, being questioned. Even though it doesn’t make it any less discriminatory. 😝😝

          That seating arrangement should be outlawed through a constitutional amendment. 😁😁

          Sitting at the back does help in having a unique and all-encompassing view. I can understand how much you’d have enjoyed it. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Lol! Why the rant on being a backbebcher? Your days of being any bencher are long gone πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ But I do agree, the the backbebcher being either stupid or a hidden genius has become a stereotype now. My policy at college was, middle bencher. Na idhar ke na udhar ke πŸ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ouch, that hurt! I’d have liked to be a student once again, without the worries of earning and feeding. 😝😝
      You seem to have matured way earlier than what should be legal. No no, that is just not right. Diplomacy even in seating. 😁😁

      Liked by 1 person

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