Once upon a time there was a poor-but-noble college prof who ate nothing but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches year after palate-petrifying year. After a while, even this most ardent admirer of Jiff and jam began skipping meals. Welcome to the gray, twilight existence of your average college prof, doomed to grade an unending and uninspired procession of pallid papers and plain-jane projects–the same-old, boring pb&j.
“What’s that knocking?” you inquire. Why, friend, that is none other than opportunity! You can rescue them from yet another helping of the paper equivalent of pb&j, serving them up instead a succulent seabass souffle, asparagus enchante drizzled in truffle oil, and an audacious yet piquant white wine. Ummmm … must … have … seabass.
“But how?” you moan. “As it is, I barely have time to slap some expired peanut butter and cheap jelly onto a stale slice of Wonderbread. Who has the time to come up with such original and four-star fare?” Stop talking to yourself, and I’ll tell you. Take two minutes to brainstorm. Here’s how…
- identify the topic. Usually the prof does this part for you. Perhaps she has requested a ten-page treatise on the rise and much-regretted fall of the baby-blue tuxedo in American fashion. Or better yet, that engineering prof with the regrettable haircut has mandated a group project whereby you will design and present an engineering solution to prevent navel lint in large, hirsute men, whilst your erstwhile teammates order pizza and apprise you of all that you are missing on Family Guy.
- Write said topic at the top of a blank sheet of paper or on the back of a napping teammate, and set a timer for two minutes.
- As the timer ticks, write out solutions/treatments of the topic as fast and furious as your sweaty meat hooks and overworked noggin will allow. Don’t edit now; just write. Abbrev. Summarize. JUST…GET…IT…DOWN. In fact, throw in a few ideas that would cause your psych prof to tut-tut under his breath and eye you suspiciously. At least one in five of your ideas should be complete, drug-induced drivel. You’ll be surprised (no, really, you will) at how often those ideas will spur you on to really original anti-drivel. Go for at least twenty ideas in two minutes.
- When the time is up, go back and add, subtract, multiply, and divide your list of ideas. Add ideas together to make new and bigger ideas; ideas with hair on their chests and a gleam in their eyes. Subtract the sub-usable ideas; kick’em to the curb. Multiply by riffing off the ideas you have down, and divide up complex ideas into their simpler parts.
Out of twenty ideas you might get five that don’t induce wretching and contribute to male-pattern baldness, and maybe two that are really exceptionally clever, if you do say so yourself. Take the pick of the litter and work it into a meal fit for a monarch of some sort.
Your prof, freed from the tyranny of the standard pb&j, will give you a much better grade than you deserve. And they all lived happily ever after.