Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Low Hum

I was in a lecture, somewhere in England, with a couple of hundred student doctors today.

There were two speakers - - one was better than the other but actually both were interesting, and the topic was directly relevant to the students' course.

I became aware of a low hum. It was caused by students talking to each other - not all of them all the time, but just some of them, all the time.

I looked round and saw a few texting on mobiles and one or two who appeared to be taking their study of anatomy to the next level, using each other to experiment with.

I wasn't in charge of the lecture and I'm new to working with this year group on this course so it wasn't really my place to do anything about it - - but it was driving me nuts. I felt that if we allowed it to continue we're simply training the students to think that this behaviour - very rude, to my mind - is completely acceptable.

I honestly don't think they were doing it on purpose - they're just used to being in environments when it's okay to talk, such as when watching television.

So when I got to my small teaching group afterwards I explained to them how rude and annoying I'd found it, without blaming them specifically. Because actually, this group are great - thoughtful and hard-working - and I think they took my point.

I don't know what I can do to stop the Low Hum for next week - - because I'm just the new kid on the block on this course. I'm a bit scared that I'll suddenly turn into Crazed Schoolmarm from Hell and leap up in the middle and yell at them all to shut up! I'll have a think about it.

I used to teach in schools, of course, before the days of mobile phones. I think if I were in a secondary school now I'd be dropping mobile phones into buckets of water at the rate of about one an hour, and getting myself sacked in a very short space of time.


Blogger Ailbhe said...

It's difficult for people who are in school because they are forced to be - obviously you can't destroy their property. But you (or the lecturer in charge) could throw the adult students out. "Hi, I'm Daffers, and if you chat or text during my classes, lectures, or afternoon nap, you will have to leave the room. Now, today's topic is..."

7:56 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

"somewhere in England"? haha - if you can't even be sure where you exactly were, how can you be sure there was a low hum at all? Or indeed, anyone else there?

8:40 pm  
Blogger Daphne said...

Ailbhe - yes, I think that should happen - though they should be warned (with humour but making clear that it's meant) beforehand that it will happen. It's hard for me to say anything as I'm not in charge of the lecture though!
Marcus - - I know where I was. Or at least I think I do. You're confusing me now - - just go back to cuddling your new baby!

9:00 pm  
Blogger Von said...

Humour is definitely the way, I'm sure you'll find a way to get them in line and develop some good listening habits.Good luck!

9:57 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

Student doctors? Amazing! In any university lecture I ever attended you could have heard a pin drop. Even when the lecture was dull we kept quiet, realising that any noise could spoil other people's appreciation.

Regarding mobile phones in school classrooms, on more than one occasion I had to challenge youngsters who were on the phone to their bloody parents! "It might be important!"..."I don't give a damn. Turn the thing off and give it to me NOW!" The school's rulings about mobile phones were irritatingly ambivalent.

11:58 pm  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

My goodness, I don't ever want to get you riled up! You may confiscate all the mobile phones you like (as long as you return them to their owners at the end of class), yes, but dropping them in buckets of water is definitely out of the question!

1:39 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm training to be a high school teacher (or, well, at least I was...had to drop out of my course for work permit reasons) and you'd be amazed at just how today's "yoof" can't do without their technology. The kids can somehow manage to text even when their phone is in their pocket, and they're pretending to pay attention!

6:56 am  

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