I’m TAing my favorite class this quarter. It’s all about my special interest, there’s a lab section involved, and my advisor is teaching. I’m in charge of the lab section, and it involves giving a short lecture and then helping the students complete their labs. We have about 40 students, and see them twice per week. In order to better learn who is who, my advisor took pictures of each student, and made printouts of them for us, so we can study them without the students being physically present. And still, I can’t seem to figure out how to match all their faces to their names.
I’m just not good at learning who is who based on their faces. The way I recognize people is based on their height and outline/overall size, posture, hair color and style, whether they wear glasses or not (and how thick the rims of the glasses are), and facial hair – I once didn’t recognize a friend of mine for weeks because he’d grown a beard over the summer. Secondary clues include their clothes, and the sound of their voices. But their faces? Not so much. And please have mercy on me if one of them shows up in a context outside of the class… I can barely recognize them IN the context of class as it is. And the pretty pictures/cheat sheets my advisor has given me? Only somewhat helpful. Because the only thing it does is provide me with pictures of faces.
It’s not that I don’t care. It’s not that I don’t remember them. It’s just that I have an incredibly hard time with recognition of individuals. I’d be interested to know how other people do it. Do you have tricks and tips for recognizing people? Do you, like me, confuse people who look nothing alike, because they’re of the same height and have similar haircuts? I think “face-blindness” isn’t quite the right term for this… For one thing, it’s not exactly “blindness” that is the problem – I’m very observant, and can easily recognize the differences between people. It’s just assigning those particular traits to that individual that is my issue. For another, it’s not just the faces. Welcome to my world of people-recognition-confusion.