Monday, April 24, 2006

Rude Student Magic

In class today (the large lecture class), I was giving a short lecture/recap of some ideas we'd been discussing, including belief systems and the logic of superstitions and magic. Among the things we discussed is the idea of magic as a psychological device to make the person employing it feel empowered. Just about everyone seemed interested.

Everyone except one girl. We take attendance by sign-in sheet, and apparently as soon as it had come around to her, she figured she was done. She got up from the back row and sauntered out the door as I was talking, a breathtaking bit of rudeness, IMHO.

There are two ways to leave a class before the end: asking permission ahead of time, and tearing out of there coughing or with your hand over your mouth as though something very unpleasant will happen if you don't leave.

She did neither.

What I did had a little magical thinking involved: I stopped talking and gave her departing back my total basilisk stare until the door closed. My glance failed to stop her in her tracks, though.

I guess this falls under the category of magic that the Dustin Hoffman character learns about in Little Big Man:

Sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it doesn't.


Deb said...

That's SO rude on the student's part. I hope your magic works next time.

undine said...

The basilisk glare usually works when they're facing me :-). I guess I'll have to use the more conventional and professorial Little Talk Outside the Classroom Door if it happens again.

Ancarett said...

That's when I use the magical red pen power of Crossing Her Name Off the List!

undine said...

I always knew that those red pens were magic!

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering why you take attendance in a college class anyway. Surely what matters is whether they participate and do the work, not whether they physically show up.

It seems to me if she was sitting at the back and didn't disturb everyone else by leaving, she had every right to leave whenever she chose (though perhaps not to sign herself in as if she was punching a time clock--but there again, why have the time clock?).

If she has a right to walk out, you also have every right to forbid her to return to your class if she does not appreciate the privilege of studying under you. If she needs the class as a credit or prerequisite, too bad.

Sarah Love (a former student who always sat in the front)

undine said...

This is the problem with a large lecture class. She didn't leave quietly through a back door; she came down to the front doors so that the whole class could see her leave. For this class, we're required by the university to take attendance; otherwise I'd say she could just stay away.