Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hot topic: Civility

The big hot topic in college teaching and learning is classroom incivility. That's an unfortunate choice of words, as I have been quoted in a video as saying, because I think "incivility" assumes intent and a great deal of stupid behavior called incivility is plain cluelessness. I prefer to call it unproductive behavior and assume most of if comes from lack of skill and knowledge of the academic culture, or from lack of ability to deal with the stressors of college life. I truly believe that.

I also truly believe some of it is a power play and intentional. The challenge is for college instructors (not those elitists, teach-one-class-a-semester types who produce research nobody reads, but real instructors and assistant and associate professors) to be able to slow down, proactively think it through, and respond based on a judgment of whether the behavior is stress-related (often the case at my college), cluelessness (more and more common because young people are not being taught at home), or an intentional attempt to disrupt the class for narcissistic reasons.

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