There are the students who refuse to address us appropriately; who make border-line insulting remarks in class when called upon (enough to irritate but not enough to require immediate action); who arrive late and slam the door behind them; who yawn continually and never cover their mouths; who neglect to bring books, paper, or even something with which to write; who send demanding e-mail messages without a respectful salutation; who make appointments and never show up (after you just drove 20 miles and put your kids in daycare to make the meeting).In my limited college teaching experience -- ten courses, all told -- I have never experienced much in the way of rudeness from my students, and I don't really know what to make of this. My biggest class has had about 40 students, so I have never had to face a huge lecture hall where who knows what might go on in the back row. But I still have trouble matching my own experience with complaints like these.
One part of it is probably expectations. Among Benton's pet peeves, it seems, is students who won't even pretend to care about his classes:
I don't understand students who are so self-absorbed that they don't think their professors' opinion of them (and, hence, their grades) will be affected by those kinds of behaviors, or by remarks like, "I'm only taking this class because I am required to." One would think that the dimmest of them would at least be bright enough to pretend to be a good student.This doesn't bother me at all. If my students want a strictly business relationship with me, I am perfectly happy to grade the work they hand in, ask them a few questions in class and otherwise ignore them. I think it is the height of arrogance to assume that every student should care about what I teach, and bad manners to complain when people refuse to lie.
I also wonder if maybe Thomas Benton gets more than his share of rudeness because he is kind of weird:
Every morning, after setting up all the multimedia components I'm going to need, I stand at the door of my 8:30 a.m. classroom in my jacket and tie and say, "Good morning" to each entering student.
Only a few will say "Hi" or "Good morning" in return. About half will give me a somewhat confused nod, not quite making eye contact. The rest will not even look at me; they look at their shoes and keep walking, exuding a vaguely suspicious and hostile air. . . . Whatever the explanation, I sometimes feel stung by students' rudeness.Now, see, part of good manners is acting according to the accepted rules of the situation. And standing in the door to your classroom, saying "good morning" to every student, is, as far as I am concerned, a violation of protocol. It's just not done. No wonder students look at the floor; they are so confused by this peculiar behavior that they don't know what to do or say. After setting up the multi-media components I am going to need, I leave the room and return at the moment when class is to start. This seems to be what my students expect, and they always respond well to it.
I am curious if any of my professor friends have had experiences like Benton's.