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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Social Medias Assault on the Classroom

Do you think any teacher would have ever put up with a student watching television while he or she was giving a lecture? No. Would not have happened. The student would have been sent to the  principal or the dean or at the very least the television would have been confiscated. But that is what has happened now to the American classroom and the students and the teachers and all of education is worse for it. Students now surf, tweet, text, watch movies, television, whatever while teachers try and give them an education. It is probably the rudest and saddest evolution in modern education that has come about from the advent of the digital age.

I have seen this first hand in a Comp Class I am teaching at a Liberal Arts College. At first I didn't really notice the students surfing. I thought they were getting ready to write and using their laptops or phones for said purpose. But then I started to realize I was competing with texts, emails, shows, news, gossip, whatever. And think about it...these students pay close to forty grand a year to go to college and sit there and not pay attention. They just surf away their erudition and get stuck with a bill. And for the teacher it is extremely demoralizing.

I mean I am a adjunct who is a writer by trade, but my God, to be faced with this assault on a teachers very raison det day after day would be  daunting. I have told the students surfing would be met with a grade deduction but still it goes on. I will have to start confiscating phones and laptops to really stop it and I would if my stint was not ending soon. To be fair it  runs at about thirty percent who spend their time in an alternate universe but how terrible to lose a third of the class to cyberspace!

There have even been some people who said students learn differently now and they should be allowed to surf away in class. Let me put this in the patois of my Southern father. Horse shit. These students (eighteen year olds from Chicago burbs) are not digital giants. They did not even twitter until I set up their accounts and none of them had a website or a blog. We set all those up and it was painful. No. They surf the way I used to hide a book in class and read. It is a diversion, something else to do while the teacher drones.

My son in highschool says the teachers there have lost the battle. They say they don't allow students to use their phones in class but the students persist. He said some teachers give up altogether and allow the students to surf or text as long as they get the work done. I get it. Try policing twenty five kids armed with small electronic devices. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be done. Teaching requires concentration and it requires everyone to be present in mind and body. You cannot have some people there and some people somewhere else. It takes away from the whole.

So I will read this to my class and see what they think.  Maybe I'll confiscate every device I see. Maybe I'll have class in a fort far underground where no radio signals can reach us. Maybe I'll finish out my stint and leave it for others to fight. That may be the ultimate luxury of the adjunct.

Books by William Hazelgrove