Archive for March 9th, 2010


Stone Tablets

March 9, 2010

The Washington Post has an interesting piece on computers in the classroom. I’ve had this discussion at length with my colleagues, and I seem to be in the minority with regard to limiting extracurricular activities.

I tell my students that they can come and go as they please, that if they’re hungover they probably shouldn’t be in class, that they’ll learn more if they’re not facebooking, that I don’t take attendance — evah — and that if they’re in my class, they should be there for the right reasons.

Essentially, my attitude is that students should be in my class because they want to learn the material, because they’re interested in the discussion, because they are motivated to engage deep issues with other students, and so on. I don’t want them there for the wrong reasons. If they’re there for the wrong reasons, they’re just bodies, taking up space.

I’m not at all a fan of authoritarian edicts, and I don’t see edicts as an essential part of a professor’s role. Quite the contrary. It seems to me that the role of the professor is to cultivate an interest in the material that “comes from within,” even if it means that some non-insignificant portion of the class is checked out.

Any thoughts?