Do I (or other adult students) have an obligation to teach, by example, how adults behave (to students) in a classroom environment?
Why would I think such a thing?
- Because over the past five years I have had to teach students a lot of things from how to tip to how and why taking notes is more important than staring at their crotch for fifty minutes.
- Because I am a parent and spend a lot of time teaching my children how to become better people or at least more informed people or something along those lines…
- Because I have spent a lot of time in classrooms and if there is one thing I see, is a need for is adults who are not professors to teach these kids how to behave. Yes, I said that.
And because five years ago, a professor and good friend expressed to me that regardless of whether I wanted to or not, I was an example in the classroom. I’m paraphrasing, but ever since that conversation I have wondered, experimented, and keep notes.
Here is what I am not qualified to be an example of…
How to dress. Most of the students dress much better than me. They seem to care about their appearance, presumably because they are attempting to mate and get a job. Its not that I don’t care…actually it is I don’t care. I have worn my outfit my entire life, it is comfortable, makes a statement (see cartoon), and allows me to carry lots of stuff. Plus, I have mated and had a job.
That’s it, everything else is a gray area; in that there are things students could learn from me and there are things best left alone.
Responding in Class. If even 1 out every 10 students in any given class would learn from me that it is okay to give an answer, right or wrong, classes would be a lot more interesting and engaging.
Just blurting out answers, keeping silent, and responding out of frustration are grey areas. In some classes blurting out answers works due to the dynamic. In other classes not so much. Keeping silent is something I do because I have this insane theory that people other than me should do the talking and because I do not want to dominate the conversation. Stupid me. If you can contribute, contribute! Responding out of frustration is directly connected to keeping silent. I get so frustrated when the answer is obvious and nobody says anything or it is obvious that nobody did the work. After a few moments of silence, I respond, but not in my “happy to be here” voice, but in my “I am so fucking disappointed, tired, and frustrated to be here” voice.
Learning. For the most part I think the majority of students do an adequate job of learning material. What many do not do well is applying the material to themselves, life, or the classroom. Years of spoon feeding information to students has left a great many of them with a critical thinking deficit. Unfortunately, teaching critical thinking skills takes more exposure than a few weeks of a semester and does require someone, such as myself, to demonstrate the skill…however, as noted above there are times where I remain purposefully quiet…
Preparation. Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance! Learn that shit right now! Do not be one of the disorganized students who couldn’t find a pencil on the table and who does not do the homework or reading. Even if, you choose to remain quiet, at least do the damn work in advance. And I am a great example for that, except that most of the students never see me reading, taking notes, or doing the homework. They only see the results, so this one is a hard one to lead by doing, especially when there seems to be a culture that downplays educational achievements and activity. Such as the students who openly discuss how they are NOT doing any of the work and passing the class. Or those who are habitually late with assignments or those who do not read and other than suffering on an exam see no other harm in not doing the work. Yeah, this may be a point of contention with me…
Attention. I would feel more confident about being an example on paying attention in class, except that when I look around the classroom students are either crotch texting, falling asleep, looking at the clock, talking, or “busy.” Most students, and I do mean most, do not exhibit signs that they are paying attention. I have been told that looks can be deceiving, but I doubt that based on the test scores that I see. So while I demonstrate how to pay attention, nobody is watching. 😦
Respect. Here is a grey area because I admit that I am not the most respectful person in the world. Shocking! There have been a few times where my temper, sarcasm, and frustration have gotten the best of me (this implies that I am not responsible, but trust me, I knew what I was doing before I did it. Thus I am responsible for me actions, but I like the “gotten the best of me” phrase). I have called out students-a whole classroom*-I have called out professors-four notable times*-and there have been times where I have been less than stellar as a person or student in a classroom environment.
That being said, I believe in respect and do my best to show my respect to the individual and institution of learning where I can. I just don’t think I am the best adult to be demonstrating respect to others.
To wrap this up…for now, do adults have an obligation to lead by example in the classroom? Yes, but no more than they would be doing anyways. I hate to say it, but people look for examples all around them and the less experienced look a lot more than the experienced. If you, the adult going back to college, have the experience put it to use and be a public example. Help shape the students into the people you want to work and be around years from now.
* Another 500 Words or two