25 Aug 2010

Classroom Hijinks: Games, Parties, Pranks, and Celebrations


In the first part of “Classroom Hijinks” last week, I discussed catchphrases, cheers, and mascots as examples of section spirit engendered by the fortunate decision to have a first-year section’s courses all taught in the same classroom. Here I cover the classroom games, parties, pranks (some of them featured in the Bulletin’s “Last Look” photos), and serenades of professors in the last class.

The most common game played during class was Bingo, called Section Bingo or Turkey Bingo. It was begun by 1972A in their first year and was still being played in 1990H. 1972A worked on refining the game and making it fair, but it was 1974I, apparently, that removed the biggest obstacle to smooth, somewhat undisruptive playing of the game: they used an agreed-upon bingo phrase rather than shouting out “bingo” itself. If you got “bingo,” you had to get called upon in the case discussion and work the bingo phrase into your remarks. See the separate Games, Parties, and Pranks page for the variations of the game.

Several classes in the 1970s threw parties with liquor during the course of a class and got in trouble for doing so. The pranks were designed to poke gentle fun at a professor (see 1985F, 1989A, and 2008J), to protest a professor’s behavior (see 1992C and 2000D), and to just have fun. But when pranks involved rivalry between sections, things could get out of hand. See the episode described under 1992D, which made the front page of the Wall Street Journal as an example of the competitive nature of HBS. Most endearing are the thank-you celebrations of professors during the last class, several of which are on YouTube. For a professor’s method of handling pranks, see MBA 1984-6A.

HBS administrators probably didn’t foresee these classroom hijinks when they made that fateful decision after World War II to keep their sections in single classrooms. My graduate-school courses seem terribly pallid in comparison. I’m jealous.

If you remember other examples of your class or section’s hijinks in the classroom, please let us know about them in the box below.


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