The bushy mustache twitched to the side; then turned to face the source of the noise that had interrupted its lecture. The professor, unused to being perturbed mid-syllable, bristled as he requested for a repeat of the question he surely must have misheard.
The student, a bearded boy with curly hair, repeated himself. Meeting the teachers eyes and burrowing his brow in confusion. The forehead of the man standing in front of him raised its own lines in surprise. While topical, the question itself betrayed a thorough misunderstanding of the subject itself.
In doubt, the professor paraphrased the question back to the boy, correcting the inconsistencies, and provided an avenue for the student to correct his error. The lifeline was ignored and the same question was asked again. The embarrassment seemed lost to him, despite the shuffle of papers and coughing of his peers, he sat eagerly awaiting an answer.
The professor stroked his mustache, closed his eyes, and sought to find a way to use this as a teaching moment. Yet, he found himself wondering how any student could get into this class without the requisite coursework and understanding. For a moment more he stood with his eyes closed praying for the boy to provide some avenue of escape: any way to not have to bring down the education of the others in the room.
No such recourse came. Eyes opened and meeting the pupil's he walked to the blackboard and began sketching out what the student had asked, hoping that by showing how little sense it made, that he could help refine the intuition of the young man. Talking as he drew, the professor stole glances across his classroom to gauge interest: the girl in the back twirling her bubble gum around her fingers; the boy besides her fighting to keep his head up; the next row of students all watching and paying attention but with a glazed look in their eye; the front row met his eyes, but a few were raising eyebrows--no doubt wondering the same thing as him; and lastly, the questioner, eyes staring at the board, desperate to learn and blissfully unaware of the girl next time staring incredulously.
Launching into it, the professor hurriedly finished the diagrams and began showing the fundamental differences between the right way to think about the situation and the wrong way. Highlighting the points which showed the flaw in the student's reasoning and provided explanation as to how things really worked. Once done, he checked in with the boy, curious if he had understood.
The repetition of the same question suggested he had not. With hidden frustration the teacher pointed to the diagrams, walking through each and verifying that the boy nodded in agreement with each step. After repeating this futile task several times the professor requested the boy to see him after class. A soundless sigh of relief lowered the raised shoulders of the fellow's classmates and the lecture continued.