Thursday, December 5, 2013

Why We Should Let Students Entertain Themselves During Class. From Dr. Magnus.

Dr. Magnus, here, one the topic of earbuds and shocking occurrences.

Today in class I had a young student we shall call Billy Bob Hamstermaster with his cell phone out and ear buds in his ears. I had reached my limit, having previously warned this same class that such activities during a lecture were, and I quote, "stupid."

Being not quite as brave and daring as my namesake, I looked at my computer screen and told the class that I had been patient with the whole cell phone thing during lecture, but having ear buds in during the lecture was going too far. The next time I look up from this computer, I said, they had better be out or I am liable to turn violent. (Violent defined as physical violence not involving any weapons and most certainly not resulting in injury or death ... but I don't think my students knew that).

I looked up, swung my glance toward Billy Bob, and was relieved that the temptation toward violence was now past. He smiled at me innocently, and had even moved his cell phone aside.

Fast forward five minutes. I am swinging my gaze once again toward Billy Bob, who is seated at a table with power outlets built into it for students to charge their laptops during class. I am startled when Billy Bob jumps 6 inches out of his chair, a huge pop sounds, and a long wisp of smoke rises elegantly from the table -- all at the same time. Poor Billy Bob got so bored he stuck a paper clip in the outlet.

So, my fellow academics, I wonder if in some instances it wold be safer to allow our students the distractions of electronic devices rather than risk their injury due to attempts to entertain themselves without their assorted electronic paraphernalia.

Note: I forgot to add that today we had evaluations ... on the only day in my teaching career I threaten students with bodily harm. Alas, the sweet dream that is tenure is further slipping from my grasp.


  1. Almost a submission for the Darwin Awards!

    1. Until this fall I had only taught small sections, and it really bothered me when I caught somebody texting, or cracking a laptop open. I would sometimes stop in mid-sentence and tell the person to stop or leave.

      But with a large section (80 students) taught in an auditorium, although I still had the policy on the syllabus, I found out I didn't care enough to enforce it. The guy with the open laptop in the last row? That's going to be a C-minus, tops. I couldn't care less what happens to a student like that. In lecture, gone, pass, fail: all the same to me.

  2. At least he learned SOMETHING during class.

  3. Oh, my. So now we need to toddler-proof the classrooms?

    Threatening violence is, of course, a chancy business these days, but maybe a bit easier to get away with if one is female. On the other hand, if the students can't be trusted with paperclips and electric outlets, even genuinely-violent professors are hardly the greatest threat to their physical welfare.

  4. Oh, that's just perfect! I'd have encouraged him to try again, if I weren't scared it would short out the building.

  5. Tell him he can get high if he uses his tongue.

  6. Jeff Foxworthy once commented on parents protecting their kids from everything:
    "Oh, you wanna put a penny in the light socket? Go ahead. Oooooooh, hurt like hell, didn't it? Don't do that no more."

    Whoever said that a penny won't go far didn't see him shoot across that room.

  7. I remember that happening in class one time. When I was in the THIRD GRADE.

  8. > Violent defined as physical violence not
    > involving any weapons and most certainly
    > not resulting in injury or death ... but I
    > don't think my students knew that.

    Never once has a student died as the result of me stapling his dick to the floor.