Saturday, November 12, 2011

To snack or not to snack

Please: Merits in denying students snacks in the classroom?

Click here for article.

This is part of what I was criticizing in the "I'm the Teacher You're the Student" review. Patrick Allittt also bans any drink or snack from his classroom. I understand preferring to keep a roasted chicken dinner out of the classroom, but a bag of chips? A danish on the go? I do not see the issue here.

This particular professor forces snacks, which seems to be the opposite of the same coin. Thoughts?


  1. A lidded cup of coffee, or a water bottle, in a classroom is just fine with me, and I appreciate when a coughing student pulls out a candy or cough drop. Hey, I couldn't teach without my cup of hot tea. But I ask the Little Dears to bring in nothing noisy (bag of chips), greasy, or smelly.

    My dean, on the other hand, worked decades to get our new building approved, funded, designed, and furnished. His policy is absolutely no food in any classroom -- to keep vermin out as long as possible.

    Meanwhile, my colleague requires snacks (though has never walked out when they didn't appear), citing reasons similar to the bizarre professor at the link. Unlike Prof. Bizarre, my colleague doesn't ask for anything healthy; donuts every time is fine. But some students can barely afford food for themselves. Also, they leave (my) classroom with grease spots, sugar and crumbs, and we recently saw a cockroach disappear into the wall.

  2. I only allow non-stinky, quiet food. A bag of chips is too crinkly and can be a distraction. Pizza has too powerful of a smell and can make tummies rumble. Drinks are OK as long as they are non-alcoholic (it's a school policy, as well).

    I tell my students that PB&J is OK tuna fish is nOK.

  3. To my mind, it's not really the opposite side of the same coin at all.

    While denying snacks might be a little bit silly, actually requiring snacks, and then refusing to teach if the snacks are not brought, strikes me as an abrogation of the guy's responsibilities as an educator and an employee.

    His job is to teach these students, and while he has every right to encourage them to bring snacks, I don't think that it's reasonable to deny them their classes if someone fails to adhere to the rule.

    Firstly, bringing snacks isn't something directly related to the lessons that he's teaching, and I don't care what bullshit claims he is making to the contrary. Secondly, since when do we, as educators, punish students for the failures of their classmates? He canceled class for all students after a few students failed to bring the snacks.

    I think his actions are very unprofessional.

  4. Well, my take on this issue is pretty simple: some of the lecture halls I teach in say "no food or drinks" and I expect the students to honor the request. To all other rooms, I could quite honestly care less. Eating in class has at least one advantage: if a student is actually eating (picking up food, chewing and swallowing, repeat as necessary) then it stands to reason that for time food is being consumed, that individual student is definitely AWAKE.

    During summer school classes, I have a recitation I give for my organic labs that meets 12-1. Lab is 1-4. Half of the students immediately go into lab, so I actively encourage my students to bring lunch and eat during recitation since a three hour lab will require concentration and being "gut rumble hungry" for a few hours isn't a good thing: students lose focus and they get sloppy/hurried. Food during recitation really improves lab performance!

    Of course the is NO FOOD OR BEVERAGES IN THE LAB, but that's the ultimate no brainer!

  5. Wait - we can *require* students to bring snacks for everyone? Including us? I think I need to make some changes to my syllabus for next term . . . .

  6. His comments about 'healthy' versus 'unhealthy' foods are potentially triggering for anyone with a history of an eating disorder, or even with just the more-mundane patterns of disordered eating which are the norm for women these days.

    I also can't imagine being one of the young women in his classroom who is trying to hide the signs of morning sickness that could give away the pregnancy which she intends to terminate (undisclosed pregnancy is certainly a common situation among college-aged women), while the professor is *requiring* that food be shoved under her nose, that she partake as so not to be 'unsociable'.

  7. Seems to me that if you require students to eat a snack during your class, you must provide them with it.

    As to student-initiated snacking, my two rules are that your snacking must not distract others and you must clean up after yourself.

  8. I don't care one bit what ANYONE else does in their classes. Truly. You can slaughter cows in your class. You can go all ascetic. It matters not one shit to me.

  9. My courses are rumoured to be an effective diet plan. Students hate me so much their appetites disappear for hours before and after.

  10. I teach mostly in computer classrooms which have a "no food or drink" policy, which has pretty much made the issue moot (as long as they keep their noshing and sipping discreet and away from the electronics, which is usually the case, small violations of the rules in service of maintaining alertness are fine by me, as is discreet consumption of food and drink in classrooms where it is allowed).

    What the professor in the article does strikes me as completely inappropriate. You just don't tell other people what or when to eat and drink, and you definitely don't impose non-class-related requirements on students (and no, I don't see the connection to the class here).

    I have had a student this semester suggest that *I* should have fed *them* on Halloween. But that kind of expectation (or at least stating it out loud) is, thanks goodness, rare (and the particular student has shown other signs of entitled brattiness).

  11. If we want to slaughter a cow are we required to bring enough cows for everyone?

  12. That is quite rude, Frog and Toad. Imagine.

    I don't see how my addition to the comment is improper, though. There seems to be a lot of handwringing about snacks and so on, and it all seems to revolve around what someone ELSE is doing in his class.

    My thought was, "Who cares?" Do what you want in your class. If my college has hired you to teach whatever, I'm assuming I can let that part of the mission go. And you needn't worry about me.

    That's all I met.

  13. At the risk of feeding a troll, it seems to me that one of the purposes of CM is to dish about what other professors do. Especially if it's unethical (at best) and potentially harmful to students.

    In fact, I neglected to say that I think Prof. Bizarre and my donut-requiring colleague both are way out of line and inconsiderate to students, and that I hope Prof. Bizarre gets docked pay for violating his contract by not teaching that day.

  14. I'm a troll because I don't think exactly the way the original poster does? That feels a little unfriendly.

    If you think one of the purposes is to dish about what others do, then have it. But it should be all right if I say that for me that's a complete waste of time.

    I have things about the profession that make me miserable, but this is not one.

    I just wanted to add that I thought worrying about what other prof's snack policies were was probably a poor exertion of time. Maybe I'm alone in that.

  15. Hiram, you are a troll because you come to a blog that shares ideas about the classroom only to proclaim that you don't give two shits about what others do in the classroom.

    A laughable attempt at trolling. Watch how long you last.

  16. I'm not a troll, just another college prof who has his own misery. But mine is NOT the specific kind that has to do with whether other profs have snacks in class or not.

    That's so incredibly strange?

    My comment was to say, why waste your time worrying about snacks in someone else's classroom?

    There is lots of other stuff to worry about.

    I may not have been here very long, but I did get a nice welcoming note last week from a moderator, and I've enjoyed reading the site. I have not posted my own thing yet, but I thought I'd read a while longer.

    Am I getting the message from three of you that I'm not welcome here? If Frog and Eskarina and Monkey are the welcoming committee, then perhaps I am in the wrong place.

    I do like the topics though.

  17. Maybe I shouldn't wade in, but I remember being new here and it was a little tough at first.

    Welcome Hiram. I hope you're here for fun.

    And, I must say, while I might not say it in the same way he did, I do my best not to worry too much what others are doing in their classrooms. I care a great deal about my own, but it irks me if someone is too nosy about my class, so how could I get up in arms about them?!?!

    My guess is that Hiram said it too harshly? Is that what annoyed everyone?

    Hang in there Hiram. Looking forward to getting your input on things, too.


  18. " I don't care one bit what ANYONE else does in their classes. Truly. You can slaughter cows in your class. You can go all ascetic. It matters not one shit to me."

    It seemed trollish. But if it was genuine then my apologies -- Hiram, we do have the occasional troll pop up, usually the same person under a new name.

  19. Hiram, I think when you enter a blog for the first time, telling everyone that what they do "matters not a shit" is classic trolling. You are perfectly welcome here, but you are not welcome to shit on people -- imagine walking into a conversation at a party where you don't know anyone, and announcing that you don't care what the people talking think about the topic they've chosen before you arrived. I imagine they'd turn away from you, and rightfully so. If a topic here doesn't matter to you, don't comment. It's that simple.

    Anastasia, in my classes we share one cow. That way we use all its parts.

  20. I don't understand how this point is being missed. I was replying to the article in the post, and the original poster who seemed very concerned about what "other" people do in their classes, in this case, vis a vis snacks.

    I'm not saying that any of YOU are not worthwhile, I'm saying worrying about what OTHERS, ANY OTHERS do about snacks in their classrooms is a waste of time.

    How can that not be a normal response? If I tell you I like to pull the shades so students don't peer out into the infinite sky while I lecture profoundly, but you like to leave them open so you can gaze thoughtfully at a passing cloud between bursts of Hegel, how is that not the same. Perhaps I should say something more gentle than I don't give a shit. Perhaps I could say, "live and let live go the ways our methodologies." But it's the exact same thing.

    If snacks are important or no snacks are importnat, is NOT what I'm commenting on. I say, live it up in your class. But don't waste energy worrying about OTHERS' classes.

    Am I really so dumb that I can't make this clear?

    I was trying to lighten the strain on the OP. Trust that you're doing your own class the right way for you.

  21. This gets my vote for oddest thread. I don't know why so many folks bristled at Hiram. Hiram, I get your message.

    As far as us not knowing him, well everyone is new at some point. Do they all have to bow down to us who've been here a long time? I hope not. Because that's a blog I'd put in my rearview.

  22. Hi everyone. Hiram is not one of our known "trolls" from any of the IP addresses I have on file. I have received a handful of emails asking me about this, and I wanted to publicly let you know.

    Everyone is bound by the rules of misery, new and old members alike.

    Have a good day,

  23. so long as it's not distracting to the class I don't care. Not everybody lives on the same schedule and what may be early afternoon for me may be breakfast time for you. Just don't leave the bottles/plates/wrapper behind in the classroom.

  24. Normally I'm in the "don't give a crap" camp. However, this semester some asshat who uses the room where I teach my seminar before I do brings his students Dunkin' Donuts every fucking class session. And so every time I teach, I come in to a stack of coffee boxes and half eaten donuts in the middle of the seminar table.

    I guess he thinks all the other classes that meet in that room on that day will enjoy the crumbs? I've tried leaving increasingly nasty notes in the room, to no avail. I'd like to beat the fucker unconscious (or if he's untenured, volunteer for P&T just so I can get his ass fired), but I don't have the time or patience to finger him. My class starts in the late afternoon, so there are a lot of potential perps in that room earlier in the day.

    Anyway, I have now revised my stance to "I don't give a crap, as long as you clean up after yourselves when the class is over."

  25. I do care what others are doing. Only to see if I am an outlier or the norm in my classroom. I do not want to change them, but I do want to compare. For example, some professor let their students use a page of notes for the exam. I would never allow that. Then I can ask myself, "Am I being unreasonable?"

  26. Depends on what they are looking for during your evaluation.

  27. Whoa, I was at the heart of an actual CM kerfuffle? I feel so speshul.

    Hiram, I didn't know if you were a troll or not -- that's why I prefaced with "at the risk of . . . " And I didn't say you shouldn't disagree. I just disagreed with you. Fairly mildly, I thought.

    Actually, I feel sorry if I helped start a shitstorm that led to the resignation of two moderators. And I'm sorry that I didn't see any of the action.


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