It is unfortunate that a small group of students can ruin an event, privilege, etc. In part, that is what happened on Thursday. Of the 500 students in attendance, most were riveted to the 85 year-old-woman on the stage for the bulk of the time. Most didn’t eat or pass notes or play with their cell phones or sleep. Most were embarrassed by the disrespectful actions of those students who were doing those things.
After I expressed my dissatisfaction with their behavior (in very strong terms), I turned my class discussions on Friday to the content of the presentation. Most of my students were moved, all expressed appreciation for the opportunity to here her speak, and many spoke elegantly of the parts of her story that impacted them the most. Several came up to me after class to thank me and apologize for their peers.
Teenagers get a bad rap. Some absolutely deserved it, most don’t. Sorry EdWonk, but my students are my students. I can call them names and point out their deficiencies, but if some else does, I feel the need to defend them. Apparently, my parental instincts are being honed for when my kids are teenagers.
Additionally, I need to take some responsibility for the mess. In retrospect, I think that filling the 500-seat theater was a mistake. I think allowing almost all of the sophomore class attend was a mistake. There are some organizational changes that I will implement next year that will cut down on the volume of students and add an element of accountability. Not sure what that will look like, but I have some time. I have always believed that the students, who most need to be there, wouldn’t go on their own accord. I will just have to find a way to I ensure that those still students attend.