Classroom interruptions and why we hate it!

Geoffrey Pullum at Linuga Franca (via Language Log):

I hate cellphone interruptions more than almost any lecture-interrupting event not involving gunplay. Our students seem not to realize (though our colleagues surely should) that explaining complex material to an assembly of strangers within a time limit is stressful. It’s harder than those who have never done it would think. Trying to get back on track after being blindsided by a disturbance can cost you as much as a minute—perhaps 3 to 5 percent of the time you have for a conference paper (and 2 percent even in a 50-minute class).

If you’re a little too frank (“What the hell is wrong with you morons—your phones are so smart yet you’re all so dumb”) you risk losing audience goodwill. Yet you don’t want to just tolerate it (“Umm … let’s see now, where was I?”). I remember seeing Stephen Jay Gould at Stanford pleading with his audience to stop popping flashbulbs in his face (they had been sternly warned not to). It seemed weak. Step down from the podium and smash his camera, I thought.

Take a look!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: