Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"We’re all adults here." From the UNH Charger Bulletin.

by Kayla Katt

Can professors really kick us out of class? I mean, we pay them to teach us, and we pay a lot of money to be there. So when a professor threatens to kick you out of class for being on your phone or using your computer for the wrong reasons, can they really kick you out?

I think there is a difference between being disrespectful to a professor or talking in the middle of class and being a distraction and using your phone or computer and being disinterested. Of course, speaking out of turn and speaking obscenely to a professor can be disruptive and grounds for dismissal from a class. However, this semester teachers have made a huge deal about the use of cell phones and computers in class and how they are “not allowed.”



  1. "However, this semester teachers..." in the same paragraph as "being disrespectful to a professor...".

    The article is of course replete with self-importance: "Professors need to understand that the world does not stop revolving for their one class; life goes on outside the classroom and I may need to respond to an important text immediately or send an email that was needed ASAP." And victim-blaming: "Maybe students using a phone or a computer is a sign ... that the professor needs to make their class more interesting."

    Here's the thing: when you task-switch to check your email or txts, your brain is disengaged from the class for far longer than you think. Your disengagement is contagious and unhealthy, for it justifies your classmates' passivity; c.f. bystander effect. Multiplied over the number of students in the class who each task-switch to their phones "just for a minute", it's a rather large effect that well exceeds the tipping point. Better that the bodies not be there than to be passing the passivity around.

    Your classmates are disrespecting you by ruining the classroom dynamic, and your professor understands and feels that disrespect on your behalf. But you can't demand that the rest of the class not use their phones while you do. So no phone for you.

  2. I appreciate the writer stating in the first sentence that students pay our salaries. That allows me to ignore the rest of drivel with a clear conscience.

  3. I had lots of students like her. They equated being an adult with doing whatever one pleased, but with no consequences or responsibilities whatsoever. I remember telling some of them to behave themselves only to have them muttering something like: "It's just like high school here."

    With that thinking, and corresponding behaviour, guess who got blamed if they did poorly? Guess also whose side the administrators took?

  4. There's a a growing body of research supporting what Ogre Proper Hep suggests: that misuse of technology in the classroom distracts not only the student who's doing the misusing, but also others in the classroom. It really is the equivalent of talking or repeatedly leaving and returning or any of the traditional distracting behavior that professors forbid or strongly discourage, according to their wont.

    I, too found, the author's focus on respect/disrespect disturbing. In what is perhaps a typical late-adolescent way,* she seems to assume that everybody is watching and judging and thinking about her (as opposed to going about their business with very little thought at all about her), and that one of their main motivations in any situation is similar to hers: to somehow accrue what one might think of as "respect points" from others (and, above, all to avoid losing same by being embarrassed or otherwise called out in anything less than the most-flattering way). This would be a pretty uncomfortable way to go through life, and, of course, it's not at all conducive to learning (which involves a good deal of trying things and falling flat on one's face and getting up and trying again because one cares a lot more about mastering the thing than how one looks during the process). I hope she manages to grow out of it in the course of her college career.

    *There may also be a class element here, which makes the whole thing all the more complicated. The preoccupation with respect also seems to be something of a theme with the student-writers of this newspaper: (in this second case, I agree with the author that the professor behaved badly, but I'm not sure the incident really warranted a column). It's tricky; everybody -- professors, students, student workers, public safety officers, janitors, fast-food servers, homeless people -- does, in fact, deserve to be treated with respect, and everybody has a right to speak up when they feel that isn't happening. On the other hand, a preoccupation with whether others are treating you with respect doesn't tend to serve the person with the preoccupation well.

  5. I found the Charger Bulletin quite strange (even by the standards of these things). In a pre-digital age, working on the student paper may have been a smart career move, but I really wonder whether its overall tone is anything employers will respond favourably to, should they look up prospective employees' writing there.
    The oddest thing was the size of the author photos: they're already huge, but if you happen to click on them, they're pretty much full-screen size. I'm not sure this is in the authors' best plausible deniability for a kick off.


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