Re: Inside Higher Education Should Profs Leave Unruly Classes?
November 29, 2010
COMMENT: I'd never walk out of class and have a strict policy about technology in my class. I don't allow anyone but those with special needs to use laptops. Philosophy lends itself easily to such a policy, and I realize that other disciplines might not be able to have such a rule.
About walking out, I understand the dilemma. On one hand, it is contractually obligated for profs to stick it out; on the other hand, they are at their wits end and are trying to mobilize social pressure to create a class atmosphere. That seems like a tactic unlikely to succeed because there are larger forces at work which cannot be changed with a single act of drama.
About technology, there is one issue which must be kept in mind--which I think gets left out. We all know about the issue of "technology in the classroom." But we must understand that universities are also guilty of sins related to technology. Anytime a student is placed in a class of 200, they are being made the object of the "technology of large classes." Is it any wonder that someone being treated like a number with the technocracies of education uses technology to re-establish their individual space?
I'm old fashioned, and believe that education is a face-to-face interaction. Universities are creating larger classrooms, online classes, and "clicker" technologies to better "manage" large classes. This creates social distance between students and teachers and between students and their peers. We need to look in the mirror and ask ourselves who is most responsible for the uses of technology most damaging to the central missions of education. Indeed, we need to make this self-reflection the subject of an ongoing debate amongst faculty. (Too bad faculty are increasingly losing control of things as basic to education as class size.)