Tuesday, November 23, 2010

This Guy Makes the Rest of Us Look Reasonable.

Have you all seen this Cornell Prof going postal at someone for yawning? It is fabulous, although I think he maybe needs some blood pressure medication.

Have you ever done a rant like this? Confess your crimes!


  1. Wow. What bothers me is not that somebody is driven to rant about a yawn, especially if it was indeed one of those almost comically loud stage yawns. It's high-strung, yes, but we all have moments like that whether or not we want to admit it. What bothers me is his insistence that the person reveal themselves or else that somebody rat them out, and after nobody does so publicly, he encourages them to do so privately and anonymously. That's far more rude than a yawn.

    My link to academia is that I'm a conductor, both orchestral and choral. Even when it's blatantly obvious who made the glaring mistake (for instance, because there's only one percussionist on the stage), it's considered polite to say "somebody over here miscounted" or something along those lines and move on. At a break in a rehearsal or afterward, the player can be addressed one-on-one. So could this student.

  2. Wow. I'd heard this described but just seeing it is amazing. What a way to loose the respect of 220 people in 60 seconds.

  3. Have you ever been in Ithaca? That place can wind one up pretty tight.

  4. You would think that with the fierce love for coffee that Ithacans have this yawning thing would not be a problem.

  5. Funny, Kaliganges!

    I've been to Ithaca in February. I'm surprised anyone makes it through a winter there.

    Anyway, I've never done anything like this, but I do get bent out of shape sometimes when students start packing bookbags when there are 10 minutes left. My eye twitches...my fist clenches.

  6. This happened to me once. I opted for a lightly sarcastic response. "Ya know, nothing inspires great teaching like a loud yawn." More seriously, I warned them that if their cell phones went off in class, I would dance to their ring tone until they turned it off. Students only needed to test me a couple of times before they turned 'em off.

  7. I yawn during my own classes.

  8. Snugglebunny - you too? I'm not alone!

  9. I did once go medieval (or, perhaps, go Strelnikov) on a student who opened a newspaper in the middle of a small lecture class. Well, ok - I didn't use cables on her, but I did personally criticize her. The paper was loud, distracting to the people behind her, and very rude to me.

    In general, though, I try to avoid any personal criticism in class. Like Tom, I tend to refer to a particular side of the room, or to the back rows, or to "those who are talking while I am trying to talk." It's less stressful for everyone, and it seems to get the message across. Usually. If not, I keep those cables under my lectern, just in case.

  10. I thought the prof was pretty reasonable here - perhaps he didn't make the point as well as he should have given some of his focus on trying to root out the offender, but the point was that the yawns were theatrical, and they'd been going on for some time e.g. designed to draw attention or elicit a response. There's plenty of things students do in class that I don't give two hoots about, but as soon students start to do stuff that's distracting, the hammer comes down.

  11. I've ranted MUCH worse than that, in a much smaller room, so it was LOUD (not for yawning, however). Frankly, if student's want to be rude (calling attention to themselves), I'll give them the attention they desire, but they won't like it.

  12. What was that farting "sput sput" sound through the whole video? At first that's what I thought he was ranting about. WHO'S FARTING THROUGH MY LECTURE!!???? HOW DARE YOU FART THROUGH MY LECTURE!!!! GET UP AND FART OUTSIDE!!!!

    (Sput sput sput.)

    And what the fuck is the "My bad side is as bad as my pleasant side is pleasant" shit? Is that supposed to scare people? I also love how he encourages the students to anonymously rat each other out. Way to go, you Nazi creep.

  13. If you crank the video all the way up, around 0:09 or 0:11 you can hear a muffled "dwoonn", so the yawn wasn't in his imagination. That "sput" is somebody screwing with the sound in the original recording and they're using a computer.

    Professor Screamo sounds like John Malkovitch's far less sucessful brother Todd.

    What I do here, Prof Sugglebunny, is black humor. I don't take them down to Uncle Touchy's Naked Puzzle Basement*, I make "jokes" about it.

    * That's a bit by comedian Patton Oswalt from his recent show "My Weakness is Strong."

    So we've had professors melt down on camera over cheating, the environment (though that was a setup), and now a yawn. I'm betting the next spazz-out will be over doughnuts, parking, or that one student who buys the book late.

  14. Nope. Never even close, and I consider myself to have a temper. I have gotten pretty emphatic on occasion during office hours with students who have unwittingly committed plagiarism and are trying to quote the "rules" they thought were correct at me, rather than listening to what I have to say about what is and isn't correct. After five to ten minutes of that, the "laying down the law" voice and some version of "we can't let students graduate without knowing this; it affects the university's reputation, and the value of everyone's degree" come out. But I *choose* to use that voice in that situation. If as seems to be the case here, the student was trying to provoke the professor, the student won.

    P.S. Like Snugglebunny and Academic, I have occasionally yawned during my own class (but have so far avoided doing it during a lecture, and try to resist the impulse and/or hide the effects while moving from student or student or group to group. And such yawning is the result of exhaustion, not a commentary on my own or my students' words, ideas, etc.)

  15. 1. I yawn during my classes, even during lectures. Who cares?

    2. When students yawn during my lecture, it's ok UNLESS IT'S LOUD OR THEATRICAL. I FREAKIN' HATE THAT.

    3. Not all yawns are born equal:

    One: The yawn because you're actually sleepy or need oxygen.

    Two: The fake yawn for attention.

    Three: The yawn while the yawner is talking.

    Four: The yawn while someone ELSE is talking.

    There's a huge difference here. If a student yawns when they are talking, fine. If I yawn when I am talking, fine. If someone yawns quietly when I or another student is talking, fine.


  16. I've never done anything like this either. I've been firm. I've told the class that I'm not pleased about something. I've even kicked students out, but always calmly and quickly. I've never made an entire class sit and listen while I went shirty on someone.

    All that said, there have been times, many times, when I've WANTED to go postal on a class. There's a big gap between thoughts and deeds.

  17. Comments on YouTube for this video have been heavily negative, though there have been people claiming that he is a relative or that they're in his class and "he doesn't usually act this way." That's like being the PR guy for the Wolfman after he ripped the shit out of a Romanian village; "No, he isn't a murderious beast with blood dripping off his claws ALL the time....gentlemen, please! The Wolfman will make restitution for the villagers he physically destroyed, please don't load those silver bullets into your guns..."

  18. He reached his limit and he is human. He addressed an annoying situation firmly and quickly. It was something that had been going on a while, so he needed to deal with it. In my opinion he did fine until the last dig of wanting to get someone to rat on the yawner. I wouldn't rat out a yawning bozo; I'd just be glad that the instructor had dealt with it.

  19. I don't think this guy was quick about it or firm enough. He needs a preemptive threat about disruptive behavior in the syllabus that he can refer to briefly and move on. He also should claim he knows who it is, and that this student is losing points each time, as noted in the syllabus. Instead, he threw away the rest of the lecture time, because what student could concentrate on kilobytes after a rant like that?

    As for confessions, the closest I've come is one-on-one with a student, Needy Ned. He had taken to following me around between classes with questions about his grades, homework directions, and dates of coming quizzes. Acting distracted and inviting him to office hours didn't help; he didn't get the hint.

    So one day I reminded the class that the syllabus asks students to respect my time between classes. I tried to appeal to our shared humanity, noting that I have limited time between classes to put away the props and activities from the earlier class and get set up for the next one (erase the board, cue up film clips, pull up a different PowerPoint show) plus grab a bite and stand in line in the restroom. I reminded them to visit my office hours or send email or phone me with questions about assignments and their grades.

    Guess what Needy Ned did right after class? Right! I lost it. "WERE YOU L I S T E N I N G, NED?! DID YOU HEAR WHAT I S A I D ABOUT THIS? SAVE IT FOR AN OFFICE HOUR!" I've never yelled at a student before or since. It was cathartic, but I felt very unprofessional about it.

    He reacted with shock but never did it again.


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