Monday, February 23, 2009

How rude!

rude I thought for a long time before writing this post, and nearly didn't write it at all, but I've decided to go ahead and publish it. I don't want this blog to be whiny, but unless I balance the positive with the negative, I lose the authentic voice which allows me to establish a meaningful connection with readers.

In one day last week while teaching, I encountered two incidents of rude behavior by students (towards me, as it happens). This was sufficiently unusual that it caused me to think about standards of behavior in education. I'm not student-bashing, as most of the students I encounter are perfectly OK and some of them are outstanding in many different aspects of their life, but these two incidents on the same day seemed to reveal a pattern for a subset of students. In the second incident in particular, the student displayed such aggression that my inward reaction was to question what they were doing there at all, there seemed to be no prospect of them learning anything such was their concentration on corrosive hostility.

One of the incidents provoked a conversation with another student who witnessed the event, which went along the lines of "students changed when they started to pay fees and regard themselves as customers" (their thoughts, not mine). Personally, I don't think this is a problem of education, it seems to me to reflect the society we live in. And I'm not asking for suggestions as to how to deal with such behavior. As I twittered to someone last week, I gave up the desire to inflict physical violence on other people decades ago, and it was the most liberating experience of my life. But the fact that I'm still mulling these events over several days later means that they had an effect on me, and I'm hoping that publishing this will be sufficiently cathartic that I'll be able to resolve my reactions. We'll see.