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2007-02-06 - 12:51 p.m. comments and becoming unpopular again...

Today apart from one useful rant from Dr. Geek, ;-) the remaining 12 comments were junk mail. Thus I will be deactivating the comments section of d-land. alas, forsooth. I've seen that others use other commenting tools, but the truth is that I can't be bothered to spend the time to figure it out. There you have it.

Today's class was rather interesting to me, about acidified soils in the coastal areas of Australia. The class was, once again, completely dead. Many are very interesting in person, but collectively they have the personality of a wet sponge. They fill up the entire back section of the room, with the front two rows completely empty. It just reminds me of my first-year undergrads, it is so sad, and un-engaged.

I suppose it didn't help that the temperature in the room approached 35C by the end of the class. But truthfully, it was cooler in the front so I have little sympathy for them...If they want to huddle in the back like a dehydrating sponge, well, that's their choice. Huh. Maybe the heat got to me, too.

By the end of this class, though, there were three students heavily engaged in working on their laptops, and spending more time looking at their screens than looking at the speaker. I spoke to all three of them about it. The first and most obvious was really apologetic, saying that she was leaving for a conference and had to get finished. I told her that next time I would prefer that she stay for a small portion of the lecture and concentrate fully, and then leave at the break if she absolutely has to, because it is very rude to guest speakers who spend quite a bit of time preparing these presentations. Again, she seemed okay, and apologetic.

I went over to the other two women in the back row, and started to make the same speech. And one of them immediately offered to take notes by hand if I wanted. I said yes, that would be nice. The other woman - who has been fairly quietly hostile since the beginning - just turned on her heels and left the room without saying a word to me. This student has been rather rude and short with me since the beginning of the class, but this overt rudeness was pretty amazing to me.

It wasn't easy for me to impose this restriction on a class of grad students. And I felt bad about suggesting that they weren't paying attention, but at the same time....they weren't really paying full attention. I know what it's like. If I sit with a computer open while talking on the phone, I RARELY devote my full attention to the caller. It's just distracting, especially in a room with wireless internet. So I don't feel that this decision is unreasonable.

Thus far I've been impressed by the overall maturity of these students on an individual level (even if collectively the sponge thing is going on). But I am a little surprised that a grad student could still be on such an emotionally childish level. I was surprised enough to comment about it in d-land. Thankfully, I have years of Dutchess experience under my belt. A few years ago, I think that I would have had real problems dealing with the inevitable reality that not everyone likes me! It still bothers me. But it doesn't paralyze me.

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