I’ve written that I teach undergraduates. My last time teaching graduate classes was in 2004 and 2005, when I took over the now-discontinued Urban Education program. It consisted of three undergraduate courses for the Urban Ed minor, and two graduate courses for the certificate in Urban Ed. Aside from those two courses, before he retired, I occasionally substituted for a faculty member in his classes for my department.
So I’m thrilled to have gotten the blended grad class summer
assignment. It’s not that I don’t enjoy teaching undergrads. I do, very
much. But as the distance between my age and being a young person
increases, the challenge is to be sure that distance isn’t reflected in
my relationship with students. It isn’t always easy. Every semester more
students bring devices – laptops, tablets, smartphones (cell phone
saturation has been 100% for a while) – into the classroom, and there
seems to be no etiquette regarding texting and social networking. Not to
suggest that this behavior is absent among elders, I notice it in
faculty meetings as well. But we know we should be paying attention and
that it violates a social norm. For undergraduate students, it is the
The solution is not banning devices, policing the
room, or making useless exhortations (not that all three approaches
aren’t tempting). The question is how to bring them into class in a
productive and meaningful way.