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Cliché Ridden Lectures

Several years ago a professor at the University of Pennsylvania was know for giving boring, cliché-ridden lectures. At the beginning of one semester, an innovative class breathed new life into his course by assigning baseball plays to each hackneyed phrase. For example, “on the other hand” was a base hit; “by the same token” was a strikeout; “and so on” was a stolen base. Divided into two teams by the center aisle of the lecture hall, the students throughout the term played inning after inning of silent but vigorous baseball. On the last day of class, the impossible happened—the score was tied, the bases were loaded and the batter hit a home run! The winning team stood and cheered wildly. Though deeply appreciative, the professor was quoted later as having wondered why only one-half of the students had been enthusiastic about his lectures.

Louis De V. Day, Jr., in Pennomena, Reader’s Digest, April 1981