I was given the thankless job of teaching Physical and Chemical Equilibrium to mainly mechanical engineering students last fall. Why thankless? - because thermo is the most difficult subject to teach and very somniferous. I took a completely different approach to teaching it and tried to make it more of a discussion. I gave them a practical viewpoint of thermodynamics based on my experience working with it for the past 4 years.
By the first break of my first lecture I felt beaten - the entire class was silent even to simple Yes or No questions. I figured it one of the problems could be that I was lecturing in English rather than in Norwegian. At the end of the lecture though, one of the students came up and asked a few questions. He cautioned me not to expect too much response from the students as he said "We Norwegians are quiet learners - no one will speak up in class".
The entire semester went by without incident - mainly because no one spoke in class. I considered that I had done a good enough job as no one slept in class - and for a class of 60+ students, that is a big thing!!!!
And suddenly, out of the blue, one of my students from fall just stopped by my office today. He had a few questions - particularly with a mnemonic I gave them to remember the different energy functions and its cononical variables. He said that he found that very useful in other courses - and wanted to understand how it works in more detail.
I am satisfied - if I could make a difference in just one student's attitute towards thermo - so be it. In my world, ONE is much much gerater than zero!!!!