Lack of classroom courtesy hinders students’ learning
Imagine you are sitting in a geology lecture. You may be nodding off as the lecture drifts in a boring direction. But then your phone starts blasting that ring tone, which sounded a lot cooler when you bought it the night before.
The initial embarrassment is followed by perverse humiliation as the professor proceeds to call you out and bring you to the front of the classroom. He then makes you play ‘Who Wants To Be a Geologist,’ and if you don’t get two questions right, a point will be taken off of your final grade.
This is one of Professor Don Siegel’s methods to limit the disruptive behavior commonly associated with large lectures.
‘I expect my students to take their job seriously,’ said Siegel. ‘They owe me, and the rest of the students, the common courtesy they will expect themselves.’
In lecture halls across campus, there is an atmosphere of disrespect among Syracuse University’s student population. With students sleeping or chatting during class, it is becoming more difficult to focus, especially in large lectures. This is a two-pronged problem, as both the students trying to pay attention and the students slacking off are losing out because of this immature behavior.
The burden of addressing this problem lies with the professors.
‘I run the tightest ship on campus,’ said Siegel. He believes it is the university’s responsibility to teach common courtesy.
The problem is rooted in the nature of large lectures. With class sizes as large as 250, students take comfort in the anonymity they have to the professor. If a professor can’t identify out-of-line students, then offenders can’t be penalized for their actions.
Based on tuition, it costs approximately $106 for each student per lecture at SU. Sleeping through a lecture is an expensive, bad habit. The sleep itself is of sub-par quality, considering the hundred-plus spectators, florescent lighting and uncomfortable lecture desks. Not to mention the presence of that highly-educated person standing in the front of the room, to whom you are paying to listen.
At least sleepers only create a subtle distraction to their fellow classmates. Groups of chatting students are more detrimental to learning.
‘Everyone hears people when they talk (in class),’ said Siegel. ‘It creates a background white noise.’
Lecture halls are built to optimize sound, and a professor in the front of an auditorium can hear specific conversations from the back of the room, continued Siegel.
Many students attempt to counter professor’s pleas for silence with the argument that they can do as they please because they are paying for the lecture. But just because you pay to enter a public place does not grant you the right to cause chaos. You can’t yell ‘fire’ in a movie theater.
The problem of students acting up during class crosses the boundaries of time.
‘Boredom is one of the afflictions of education,’ said religion professor Edward Mooney. ‘They’re hasn’t been a lot of change (through the years). One change is that there are now cell phones.’
While you may put your cell phone on vibrate to avoid being the next contestant on ‘Who Wants to Be a Geologist,’ attempt to extend that courtesy to all your professors and peers. Disrespect reflects poorly on yourself and your upbringing. If you wouldn’t do it in the workplace, don’t do it in the classroom.
Matt Reilly is a featured columnist whose columns typically appear Mondays in The Daily Orange. E-mail him at email@example.com.
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