by George J Elbaum
My presentation at Gimnazjum No. 1 started quite normally, with an audience of approximately 100 students sitting on low benches in their gym, per the photo below. It also ended quite normally, with many of the students coming to me with vocal thanks and enthusiasm and asking me to autograph my books, also in photos below. Much of the rest of the talk, however, was a first-time and unexpected experience for me, despite the 130+ talks I’ve given in the preceding 7 years. Within less than 15 minutes of starting my talk, several small groups of students began using their cell phones, talking audibly and giggling among themselves, girls playing with each other’s hair. This behavior continued even when I purposely paused, approached the nearest group and continued speaking while looking directly at them. This show of bad manners and lack of discipline was totally ignored by their teacher, till I finally finished abruptly without asking for any questions. It was truly a disappointing experience. However, I do appreciate the students who listened and who talked with me afterwards, and whose photos are below.