November 16, 2010

"If I hear one more of these overly loud yawns, get up and walk the hell out."

"You should be asking yourself: Why am I the one loser who has to do that and 220 other people know better?"



Via TaxProf, who says "Cornell Prof Goes Nuts After Student Yawns in Class."

Frankly, I don't think what this teacher (Mark Talbert) did is that bad. The student didn't just yawn, he yawned in an exaggerated, loud way that sounds like intentional disrespect. The teacher indicates that this has happened more than once. How dare one student disrupt a class — a large, serious class — for his personal amusement? 220 students are there, working hard, having paid big tuition, and one loser is appropriating their time and attention and knocking the professor off stride. It's not acceptable, and why doesn't the student know that? Why should a college professor have to give remedial etiquette lessons?

107 comments:

MadisonMan said...

Control Freak.

If you can't focus your attention on what you're lecturing on, something is wrong with your teaching style. I have lectured through jack hammers in the next room (that was fun), slurping, rustling papers, you name it.

Yes, the yawning student was rude. This is something that should be dealt with as an email to all students, after class, not as a tirade. The professor was wasting the students' time with his petulant little outburst.

Scott M said...

Frankly, I don't think what this teacher (Mark Talbert) did is that bad

HOWARD JOHNSON IS RIGHT.

As a student, especially a college student, you are not required to like the teacher or your fellow students, but you are required to respect them. This is usually displayed by being quiet unless called upon. There really isn't a whole lot of latitude in your behavior as a student at a lecture.

Scott M said...

The professor was wasting the students' time with his petulant little outburst.

Depends entirely on the frequency of the yawning behavior ramped up even further if it was a singular repeat offender. One could argue that the professor taught a memorable lesson to all of those present, regardless of their takeaway.

MadisonMan said...

ScottM, the professor became part of the problem. Respect runs two ways in a classroom, and this professor is not respecting the 200+ other students by teeing off on the one rude person.

I notice there is an AV person in the room, sitting up next to the stage. A better tactic would have been: Tell the AV person to watch for the yawner, and when you see him -- I'll guess it was a guy -- point him out to me. Or why not face the students while you lecture. Then you can see it yourself.

BJK said...

Of course, if you're feeling the need to yawn in any matter...wouldn't that suggest that you are too tired / lazy to walk the hell out of the room to do so?

The thing that immediately strikes me as odd about the video is that it switches to a reverse-view as the Professor walks up the aisle to hear from the student in the back. Assuming that there is a camera focused on the audience...wouldn't it be possible to identify the yawner from the tape? The fact that it's being recorded at all causes me to be skeptical of any behavior caught on tape, due to the implicit assumption that all parties know (or could / should have known)they are being recorded when the outburst took place.

Is it possible to understand and respect the ettiquite point, while still thinking the prof was patroling the class like a 5th grade teacher (like the quote from the student evaluation website suggests)?

Ann Althouse said...

Remember it's Hotel School. These people are learning the hospitality business. The lesson that rudeness is completely unacceptable may be on topic.

Moose said...

You're kidding me? Because a student is acting immaturely, the professor gets to throw a hissy fit?

Respect is a 2 way street. There is no indication that professor took that student aside and reprimanded him/her.

Sorry, professors are not divas. They shouldnt act like them.

MadisonMan said...

The lesson that rudeness is completely unacceptable may be on topic.

It's hard to teach that lesson by being rude. Students won't get the irony.

halojones-fan said...

Ann, as a Limbaugh listener, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts regarding his "McNabb is overrated" comments from a few years back, now that McNabb got signed to a 5-year contract and promptly threw two interceptions to the same defender.

SteveR said...

I once yawned in a somewhat large class (maybe 75 students), not that loundly, but nonetheless the professor heard it and just said, "yeah I feel the same way" and moved on.

Scott M said...

I once yawned in a somewhat large class (maybe 75 students), not that loundly, but nonetheless the professor heard it and just said, "yeah I feel the same way" and moved on.

Oh it gets just as bad going the other way, though. I had a diva poly sci prof who stated loudly on the first couple days that everything on the exams is from his lectures and that we should write down every word he says. If he was speaking to the class and say you looking up, he would stop, stare, then shake his head and sigh loudly.

traditionalguy said...

I want that Professor to be the next SCOTUS Justice. Oral arguments will get a lot sharper, quickly. And when a demagogue President tries anything at The state Of The Union address, this guy wont just move his lips back at him.

bagoh20 said...

Just on the level of style, the point about the 220 others not doing it was good. the rest of the anger ruined the power of that.

I would have ratted the guy out, even if it was me. All cowards.

Maybe it was a girl. Why do we assume not?

bagoh20 said...

If the teacher were to similarly disrespect a student, they would understand what's wrong with it and with great gnashing of teeth.

Oligonicella said...

"My bad side is as bad as my pleasant side is pleasant."

"he yelled at us for not saying 'bless you' after he sneezed,"

"We’ll stay here until..."

What a dick.

traditionalguy said...

I would guess that the little darling yawner never had to attend church services with his Momma on his case. He is learning the basics late; but congratulations to this professor who is willing to teach him.

Bender said...

These people are learning the hospitality business.

So what is the instructor teaching the students here about guest relations? That, if you encounter a rude guest, instead of quietly and politely dealing with him, you should annoy all of the other guests and customers by having a hissy fit?

Hagar said...

I could not hear it in the video, but assume that this was indeed a deliberate "showoff" yawn, which is something that should not be tolerated in class anywhere.

But then, why is this person in that class? This behavior would seem to indicate that it is not to learn something, but perhaps just to pick up a needed credit hour at a convenient time.

This again is the result of the culture of "go to college and good things will happen to you for the rest of your life." And there is some truth to this as just about all but the smallest of businesses have abandoned any hope of controlling the quality of their employees and have relegated the responsibility for hiring to a "Dept. of Human Resources" - or even more fancifully entitled - the cohorts of which have no idea what the business of the company is, but do know to ask for a college transcript and grade averages.

I feel that courses in hotel management do not belong in a publicly funded college to start with, but should be taught in private trade schools. No yawning there, if you are paying for the course yourself!

bagoh20 said...

"So what is the instructor teaching the students here about guest relations? "

I know I'd rather have the professor handling my reservation than the yawner. That's the lesson.

Big Mike said...

@halojones-fan, I thought Michael Vick and the Eagles defense already answered you last night.

Mary Beth said...

All this talk of yawning just makes me want to yawn. But quietly.

People yawn loudly, chew with their mouth open, and exhibit other boorish behavior. Perhaps they aren't even aware they are doing it until it's pointed out to them.

Schorsch said...

Disruptive behavior like this is becoming normal at my University. MM, there is no way to capture the interest of a student who has no intention of being interested in anything academic, ever. Add in mandatory attendance (University policy) and you have a recipe for disruption.

California's nice little addition to this was the involvement of lawyers. We are not allowed to single out disruptive students, because too many have sued. We have actually been advised to simply end class rather than confront a student who is making it impossible to go on.

lemondog said...

How dare one student disrupt a class — a large, serious class — for his personal amusement?

May be student has a medical condition, sleep disorder with excessive yawning.

Triangle Man said...

This is something that should be dealt with as an email to all students, after class, not as a tirade.

@MadisonMan

So a student can post it to passiveaggressivenotes.com? Do you post guilt-ridden notes to your kid(s) on your refrigerator, or tell them to put the farging milk away when done?

Robin said...

The professor only has limited tools to deal with disruptions. And it can be necessary to use the big guns to control the situation.

I've thrown students out of my classes for disguised disruption and will again.

former law student said...

I couldn't hear the yawn either, so can't tell if it was a provocation/editorial comment or just a yawn. Was this an afternoon class? Around 3 I get a fit of sleepiness, and have to get up and move around to avoid yawning.

Damon said...

Typical entitlement is being displayed in the comments here.

It is the teacher's classroom and keeping order is his job - END OF STORY. It wouldn't be fair to the other students.

Pointing out unaccpetable behavior in a demanding way did not waste time, it made a point. There was absolutely NOTHING disrespectful about the professors behavior. When a teacher wastes my time by not keeping order, that is disrespectful.

MadisonMan said...

Do you post guilt-ridden notes to your kid(s) on your refrigerator, or tell them to put the farging milk away when done?

My kids don't need to be told. They are polite, unlike the yawner, and unlike the Cornell Professor.

I think I'd rather have an email posted to the net than a video of me on a tirade, frankly, although the likelihood of the latter is exceedingly small. My classes are just so darn interesting.

Revenant said...

Pointing out unaccpetable behavior in a demanding way did not waste time, it made a point.

It wasted time. Approximately seven hours of time, spread out across 220 students.

Larry J said...

California's nice little addition to this was the involvement of lawyers. We are not allowed to single out disruptive students, because too many have sued. We have actually been advised to simply end class rather than confront a student who is making it impossible to go on.

This has been going on for years at the K-12 level. One disruptive student can prevent an entire class from learning and there's almost nothing the teacher can do about it. Why should anyone be surprised that this behavior continues when that same malcontent goes to college?

People yawn loudly, chew with their mouth open, and exhibit other boorish behavior. Perhaps they aren't even aware they are doing it until it's pointed out to them.

Most people know when they're being an asshole but they seldom get called on it in an academic environment. Should they ever leave that environment for a job in the real world, that coddling will abruptly end.

Bob_R said...

There's a section in the VT student code of conduct that says that if you act like a jerk the prof can kick you out. (Not quite as plainly as that.) I think kicking the id out would have been a better response than the rant.

Bender said...

Most people know when they're being an asshole but they seldom get called on it in an academic environment. Should they ever leave that environment for a job in the real world, that coddling will abruptly end.

It wouldn't matter if they did get called on it. They've got tenure. They can be as big a jerk as they want.

Triangle Man said...

He does come across as pissy. It makes me wonder what is going on in his life outside the classroom that made him so irritable.

jimspice said...

I used to keep a bowl of tootsie rolls around to toss to students for good answers. It came in handy for tossing AT students who would nod off. I once silently moved the whole class out into the hallway when one guy fell asleep. The look on his face was priceless when we knocked.

Juba Doobai! said...

Jeez, Althouse, we already have to give them remedial English and Math. Why in hell can't we give them remedial etiquette, too?

Jim said...

I'm about as anti-authoritarian as it gets, but I have to side with the professor here.

If the student yawned loudly enough for the professor to hear it in a lecture hall of that size, then it wasn't anything BUT a show-off yawn of disrespect.

You don't have to like the professor. Nor do you have to sit there and waste your time if you don't think he's providing useful information. I don't think there's a college graduate here who didn't leave early or skip class entirely if a professor wasn't actually providing needed information.

There was NO excuse for the student yawning that way, and sometimes you have to draw a line so that OTHER students know better than to cross it in the future. From the "tirade" it seems like this wasn't the first time this sort of thing has happened.

But, and here's the key point, I'll bet it doesn't happen again any time soon. And ultimately, THAT is the standard by which we should judge the professor's response: was it EFFECTIVE?

My guess is that the answer to that all-important question is: YES.

Bob_R said...

@halojones-fan Limbaugh was wrong about WHY McNabb was overrated. Remember that at the time McNabb made it to the title game in his second year and was being hyped as the next Johnny U. This is VERY standard treatment for a quarterback with early success - including white quarterbacks like Bledsoe, Romo, and Rothlensberger. Limbaugh bough into his narrative and ignored the evidence. The ESPN crew was dumb enough to try to defend the hype of McNabb rather than attack the political correctness accusation.

Juba Doobai! said...

My response to students yawning gapingly but silently has been to duck and beg, "oh, gosh! take care you swallow somebody with that yawn!"

That's a silent yawn.

A loud yawn is disrespectful and disruptive. The student ought to be immediately carpeted to teach him and the others a lesson about what you'll tolerate in your classroom.

MadisonMan said...

The student ought to be immediately carpeted to teach him and the others a lesson about what you'll tolerate in your classroom.

But that wasn't done. The prof says he's been hearing it regularly. His class has been out of control for a while.

Why are the male students wearing jackets and ties?

AJ Lynch said...

Cornell costs $52,316 for tuition, room & board yet they have 220 students in one class. What a deal!

roesch-voltaire said...

I do not know if the problem is one of informality, a common thing among students today, or one of disrespect, which is not so common. According to the professor, this overt yawn has been expressed on several occasions and obviously getting under his skin.
But I have found that humor works better than anger. Last week my perpetually tired student fell completely asleep while resting his head on his books. I slipped into the discussion an encouragement for my students to get more sleep and glanced in his direction.
Rather than make an issue of it, I suggested that the students leave quietly at the end of the hour. The student woke up to discover an empty classroom; I smiled and asked if he enjoyed the discussion. Since then he has stayed awake.

former law student said...

Funny that the two profs here with sleeping students automatically rule out any defects in their teaching style.

Larry J said...

Most people know when they're being an asshole but they seldom get called on it in an academic environment. Should they ever leave that environment for a job in the real world, that coddling will abruptly end.

It wouldn't matter if they did get called on it. They've got tenure. They can be as big a jerk as they want.


Since asshole professors with tenure can't be fired, they're almost never likely to enter the real world. The same isn't likely for asshole students. Sooner or later, they're going to leave school. In the real world, assholes on the job seldom prosper. Changing an asshole student's behavior while in school is actually doing him a favor.

rhhardin said...

That's from teaching in a hippodrome

The Hippo

A Head or Tail--which does he lack?
I think his Forward's coming back!
He lives on Carrots, Leeks and Hay;
He starts to yawn--it takes All Day--

Some time I think I'll live that way.

Theodore Roethke

rhhardin said...

I take it he's a French professor.

traditionalguy said...

Etiquette says you honor the speaker by staying attentive and not interrupting him. What's so hard about doing that? A BIG PLUS that comes from demanding respectful demeanors from students is a students new found pride in their self image as a useful and needed part of the class.

DaveW said...

The guy got a little bit over-pissed but I understand his basic reaction. Doesn't seem like that big a deal to me. His over-dramatic demand that the offender be identified by the other students is lame and childish.

roesch-voltaire said...

FLS of course at issue should be the question of how interesting is the class/teaching itself. As I teach twenty students, or less so I know each student well, and generally in a discussion format, it quickly becomes clear when something is not working and I make adjustments. But the sleeping student in question has some unusual circumstances beyond boredom, and my point is often times humor and space solve the problem better than anger.

AST said...

If he said nothing and just failed the student, what would happen?

The Crack Emcee said...

Three thoughts:

1) Go Teach! Since when is school a "two-way street"? You plunk your ass down in your seat, pay attention, and try to learn something:

You're the dummy, he ain't. Why should he have to put up with you?

2) The students are cowards for not saying who did it. I hate that kind of cowardice. (I hate all kinds of cowardice.)

3) It's nice to see a man be a man.

rhhardin said...

It would have been a good moment for a student to release squirrels.

rhhardin said...

Nobody knows that a telegram is, he had just said.

The yawn is asking if that will be on the exam.

Class factotum said...

Why was this class being filmed with two different cameras? Is that standard now?

Lisa said...

Consider the possibility of someone with a sleep disorder or torette's. If that is the case, they should apologize and explain in private.

Otherwise, they are a rude ass

Ricardo said...

Twenty years from now, universities are going to be empty mausoleums, having priced themselves out of the market. These kinds of tantrums, just show how some professors are clinging to their sense of "entitlement" even as their livelihoods burn down around them. Good riddance. Phoenix is the wave of the future, along with distance learning. Plus an added benefit ... parents won't have to worry about their kids getting fondled by TSA, while flying to campus.

Beth said...

Consider the possibility of someone with a sleep disorder or torette's.

Every university has an office of disability services; students with any special needs (notetaker, extra time or computer assistance on exams, tourette's, etc.) should register with that office, which will then communicate with and assist the faculty in accommodating the student. If a student has a disorder that creates some disruptive sounds or behavior, the professor would be aware of it.

Matt said...

I have to say I sort of agree with both The Crack Emcee and Althouse on this. Might be a first.

Respect the class and respect the teacher.

Pastafarian said...

I was a grad assistant, and taught about 6 courses; and I never had anyone fall asleep. Jimspice, I wouldn't go telling that story too often -- it doesn't really make you look good.

You presented material in a way that didn't require any participation of the students, you did it in such a dull way that someone actually lost consciousness, and then to punish him you wasted several minutes of the entire class's time.

That's something that they never really stress with professors: How to be an effective teacher. I was surprised just how many of the people who teach at universities, at the highest level, are horrible teachers.

Now, that's not to say that this yawning student isn't a little asshole. He certainly is. But this isn't he most effective way to deal with him. "We'll stay here all day if we have to..." Really? To a class higher than 2nd grade?

Matthew said...

I am sorry, but I yawned at law class a couple years ago. Jut a regaular yawn, which to be fair is wholly a bodily function, showing that i need a little extra oxygen and the visiting professor called me out and stated that I was being rude for yawning. just stunning. lo and behodl the guy was a total freak who went on to a tenure track position, starting harassing some female students and was summarily let go. i think he works some housing equality public interest firm now. freak.

David said...

Ah, the fundamental attribution error really is fundamental.

Do you all really want to defend making sweeping comments about this professor's character or his class based solely on 2:29 of video?

Ralph L said...

I took an Electronics class with 3 students (yes, it was a Liberal Farts college). In the lab, the prof said, "This is what we covered yesterday when you were asleep, Ralph." The next week I burned up the primitive microprocessor with a negative voltage input, which we'd been warned not to do. The prof had to unsolder the bad one and replace it himself. I felt like crap, but I still got an A.

Joan said...

Just today I had to remind a 7th-grade girl that it is possible to yawn silently, and that she should practice doing so, especially as she sits in the front row less than 2 feet unobstructed from where I'm often writing on the white board. She's in my last class of the day and the classroom is often stuffy at that time, so I can excuse the yawning if it's not loud or dramatic.

When I told her she could yawn quietly she looked at me as if I had suggested she sprout wings and fly or something similarly impossible... but I'm sure she'll manage it eventually.

My take on this prof is that he has been putting up with the loud yawns for a while and finally had had enough. While I understand where he's coming from, I would have applied peer pressure -- explain that the students should have the courtesy to each other not to interrupt so rudely. They're paying how much for each class? Disrupting class isn't going to affect how much the professor earns, but it is stealing productive time from all your classmates.

Irene said...

I agree with Joan. Peer pressure might be the better alternative here.

I say this because admonishment in a large class rarely achieves the desired result. All of the students--not just the yawner--may feel that they have been scolded, and most will resent the outburst.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Etiquette says you honor the speaker by staying attentive and not interrupting him.

Does attentive also equal not Twittering, facebooking, playing solitare and other activities in class?

ken in sc said...

Every university professor should teach at least one or two years in middle school before gaining tenure.

AllenS said...

The teacher over reacted. Should have handled the problem like John Effin Kerry: that if they yawn and did not study hard they could get "stuck in Iraq".

Shanna said...

I once yawned in a somewhat large class (maybe 75 students), not that loundly, but nonetheless the professor heard it and just said, "yeah I feel the same way" and moved on.

I had a friend who used to actually fall asleep in class and occasionally start snoring, and we would just prod him awake and the professor would laugh about it. And that was a small class....

I think the professor overreacted. Even if I was not the one yawning, I would have thought he was a jerk from that encounter. Unless he had a history of making joking outbursts or something, and this was part of that. (I had a finance prof who would wear dark suit/glasses on the first day and try to scare everybody, but he was really a great guy and it was more like schtick). But he seemed really mad.

David said...

I was lecturing once in a CLE tax seminar in a large crowded room.

With about 20 minutes to go, there was a loud snore from a guy about 20 rows back, Very loud, not stopping and suddenly a big commotion.

The poor guy was having a stroke and was dead within 5 minutes.

So be careful about your outbursts, lecturers.

madeleine said...

The professor is obviously insecure, as well as unable to make a boring required class interesting. It would've been much kinder (and more effective) to ignore the yawn, make a humorous comment, or send out a "please be respectful of your fellow students--we're all in this together" email later. Neither competence nor good etiquette were demonstrated in this case.

I'm reminded of a time at music camp 30 years ago when an enthusiastic camper told a visiting professor who'd just given a piano recital, "You played good!" Instead of being polite and thanking the complimenter, the arrogant ass (still teaching with not a recording contract in sight, BTW) said, "Normally one plays well and one feels good," in a voice oozing with disdain. How tacky, unkind and discouraging! What a pathetic example for an adult to set. Just like the professor in the video.

rhhardin said...

yAWn ought to be the spelling.

David said...

The yawning student was disrespectful, but Talbert's invitation to rat on the miscreant (anonymously even) was beyond strange.

Did he really think anyone was going to rat, or that a nameless accuser would be reliable?

Talbert seems to have lost it after the silly girl in the back row lied to him. No way that yawn came from the very back of the room. If I were the girl, I would drop the course. Talbert will not grade her class participation kindly.

Reacting to a provocation is appropriate, but the way Mr. Talbert did it was not. In that sense, he taught a valuable lesson. Anger management, please.

bearing said...

I yawned loudly once in an 8:30 a.m. undergraduate physical chemistry class that was being delivered in a large lecture hall. It was, apparently, audible to everyone in the class, because the laughter woke me up.

I was thoroughly, thoroughly embarrassed.

But I would have been even more horrified to have it suggested that I was engaging in deliberate disrespect. I didn't PLAN to have trouble staying awake in class that morning, and the yawn was involuntary. It may have been irresponsible to come to class so sleepy, but I wouldn't call it disrespectful.

Of course, this only applies to one-time occurrences -- if there's a repeated pattern, that's another thing entirely. Maybe the prof here was set up.

Quaestor said...

GABBY JOHNSON IS RIGHT.

There's no more effective means to teach basic etiquette and respectful behavior than professorial temper tantrums.

Big Gov't Trickling Down on You said...

Suicide capitol of the Ivy League (and perhaps of all colleges).

I was about to agree with the prof - the guy's got a point and a right to keep the class orderly as he sees it, but he does seem to go a bit overboard and loud with the monologue around 1:40.

Plus, the subject matter is programming/computers. Not a field conducive to social skills.

jimbino said...

The professor is a servant of the students, basta. Especially if adhering to the "Socratic" tradition of teaching, in which the professors, like Aristotle, were direct servants, if not slaves, of the students.

In required law-school classes, like Wills and Estates taught by effete snobs like Stanley Johanson, it is morally imperative to complain loudly or just quit attending, both of which I did in series. Continuing to just sit there implicates you in the expensive educational crime against humanity.

Makes it harder to master the material, sure, but saves time spent listening to nonsense while surrounded by ass-lickers.

Ah Pooh said...

My goodness, that professor is so fragile!

Nora said...

I would give the teacher a benefit of the doubt. I remember from my college days that there are plenty of attention seeking jerks that can be mighty disruptive. And sometimes ignorring them is not an option, because they will try harder, rather than go away.

Also, I agree with the teacher, that if you are so bored that you feel like entertaining yourself in class, you better stay outside the classroom. There are many students immature enough to need this reminder, sometimes more then once before they get it.

Crimso said...

"That's something that they never really stress with professors: How to be an effective teacher. I was surprised just how many of the people who teach at universities, at the highest level, are horrible teachers."

I always ask my classes if they know what qualifies me to teach it. A few will answer (correctly) "You have a Ph.D." I then go on to ask how much of getting that Ph.D. involved teaching, or instructions in how to teach. Some of them have no idea that I have very little graduate teaching experience, and no formal education in teaching. I explain that I teach by thinking about all of the professors I had in the past, and emulating those I thought were good and avoiding the practices of those I thought were bad. It's really that simple. I tend to get great evaluations of teaching from both students and other faculty (who sat in on my classes when I was up for tenure and/or promotion).

"Every university professor should teach at least one or two years in middle school before gaining tenure."

Perhaps. My wife teaches middle school science at an "alternative" school. Her students love her. The fact that she has a degree in what she's teaching, along with real world experience in practicing it, undoubtedly helps. I firmly believe that anyone teaching at the middle or high school level should have a degree as well as practical experience in that subject and not "Education" with, say, a minor in a specific subject. I can only laugh at the fact that I am not qualified to teach high chemistry (because I don't have a teaching certificate), even though I've applied the subject matter taught in that course at a very high level for a number of years and have taught freshman chemistry classes a number of times (and so have a very clear idea what the students should know to be prepared for such a course).

Roux said...

I didn't have one decent professor in college. They were all horrible and most never taught a class at all. Occasionally a lecture but almost no interaction with the students. Most had grad assistants teach the classes.

I have very little regard for the so called highly educated.

Chip Ahoy said...

<anecdote alert >
A friend owned his own business selling specialized hardware items, coils, extrusions, hinges, heat sealers, sonic cleaners, and the like. He had a problem salesman, wore his tie loosened, top button undone, shoes not shined, hair unkempt and so forth. Projected a careless impression my friend did not want for his company. My friend is a bit uptight about this sort of thing, a persnickety neat-freak himself, but he is boss. Decided to talk to the guy about the situation but made the mistake of doing that informally. Over a few beers after lunch at a restaurant he broached the subject. The salesman used the opportunity to put forward his own ideas regarding the running of my friend's company taking the subject far off point. That evening I encountered my friend morose over the matter. Quite angry, actually. Mind, my friend is some 15 years my senior and so not completely open to advice from the likes of myself. Even so, a novice manager with minimal training could see the mistake. I suggested he chose the wrong setting and created the wrong atmosphere, and then elaborated the details. Office, desk, face to face, formal atmosphere, inform the employee on the single subject, state exactly what observable behavior is expected, how compliance will be measured, consequences for failure, make clear the subject is not open to discussion, close the meeting. It is the sort of thing inculcated at the FRB. To my astonishment, my friend acknowledged the acute perception and clarity of my view of it and commended my perspicacity.
</anecdote alert >

That is what this professor did. He says as much in this video. He created an informal environment up to that point then exploded when a student behaved informally and crossed a line the professor himself fuzzed. If the professor is to demand formality and strict attention at all times, then that should be clear from the onset and no student in their right mind would dare yawn loudly because they would know already with no contradictory evidence that to be an unacceptable transgression. My point is the professor created the situation as much as the student, and calling a student a loser while berating the whole class is not the way to go, in my opinion.

deborah said...

Yawn.

deborah said...

(Not @ Chip, of COURSE.)

Kirby Olson said...

Most colleges allow profs to dismiss students who are rude or disruptive. You just hand them their walking papers. That's more effective than yelling.

Hagar said...

Crimso,

In Norway, when I was young a long time ago, a high school teacher (lektor) was required to have majored in his/her major course of teaching and have a minor in education.

When I came to this country and entered the CE college at U. of Wash., I was credited with about 2/3 of the freshman year required courses (which pretty much screwed up my scheduling for the rest of my college career), and I still had to take classes covering the same material I had in high school, though in a more up to date form in, say, physics, and adding a third dimension in beginning math courses.

Michael said...

The professor was correct to identify and call out the rudeness and to offer reprisal if it continued. Rudeness as I see from the comments is viewed as a liberal right and one that should be stomped out.

MadisonMan said...

register with that office, which will then communicate with and assist the faculty in accommodating the student.

At the Tech College I teach at, it is the student's responsibility to inform the instructor of the need for accommodation. I usually ask / remind them at the start of the semester that they need to do that. They hand us a grey card that has their accommodation on it, and you make adjustments. So the student has to go to the Disability Services office, be evaluated, and then inform the teacher. Some don't want to do all that.

Shanna said...

The professor was correct to identify and call out the rudeness and to offer reprisal if it continued.

I agree, I just think he was incorrect in his methods.

Now, as we've ragged on students quite a bit, I wanted to bring up that sometimes the shoe is on the other foot. My school brought in a professional author who won a pulitzer (although god knows why because the book wasn't that great) to give a lecture. Not only did she not prepare for her three hours of time choosing to take questions for the entire time, she very rudely and obviously was eating and talking with her mouth full the entire time!

Now, nobody got up and yelled at her and everyone asked questions and was properly polite, but she did not leave a good impression at all.

William said...

He doesn't have absolute power, but he is corrupted to the full extent of the limited power and corruption available to him. The plea to have the other students rat the offender out, or, better yet, rat him out anonymously is creepy. There's a huge gap between what teachers teach and what students learn. He is teaching bullying, not hospitality......I always used to carry a small bottle of lighter fluid. I would squirt some into the sleeping student's hair and set it on fire. The student would never fall asleep in class again, and his bloodcurdling screams would energize the rest of the class.

bagoh20 said...

I had a teacher in high school chemistry who gave me the finger from the front of a 40 student class. I loved that guy. He looked like Frank Zappa and had a great sense of humor. I deserved the finger, and everyone knew it.

AlphaLiberal said...

I agree, Ann. Break out a can of Whup Ass.

MeTooThenMail said...

Um, no.

I call total bullshit on the professor.

I have traveled nationally as a lecturer, I teach at a medical school, and I have been heckled, argued with, interrupted, have had people yawn, fall asleep, etc.

But when you lose your shit like that and:

1) Call out for your audience to be a "snitch"
2) Lose control of your message
3) Lose control of the physical space
4) Lose control of your own "voice"

You have lost everything.

If you lose just one of the above you typically have lost your audience and in many cases you don't get them back.

In this case, once he erupts his class learns more about him in the negative, than he will ever teach them in the positive. Most impressively, that the guy is a bully (what could be worse?), he's thin-skinned, and a total dick.

There are so many ways, so many more adaptive, creative, enhancing, and educational ways to deal with a heckler or "yawner" than to be a total asshole that it astounds me that so many lecturers or teachers here can defend this.

Fail.

Total, unequivocal, Fail.

Sucks to be that guy.

And his class likely sucks, too.

Just sayin'.

former law student said...

Chip brings up a good point about establishing expectations. I wouldn't say the prof needs to be a hard ass, but he needs to make his expectations clear.

The problem occurs when the person in authority assumes that expectations are shared. The thought that there's no need to establish a dress code, and then your guy comes in looking like he slept in his suit, or the woman shows up exposing all but her nipples. At that point it's really too late to ask, "What were they thinking?"

Whiskey Jim said...

Everyone in that room was an adult.

The yawner obviously needs some lessons on comportment as an adult. And that means privately.

I see no evidence that the professor acted as an adult, nor viewed his class mates as adults either.

Perhaps some class etiquette rules are in order.

But that professor was way out of line. You get what you expect and deserve.

Gahrie said...

Funny that the two profs here with sleeping students automatically rule out any defects in their teaching style.

When the hell did it become the teacher's/professor's job to entertain?

Gahrie said...

Am I the only one who thought the loud yawn was a rude and deliberate comment on what the student thought was a poor jest?

jamboree said...

Prima donna who exists within a controlled market and has no coherent idea of his actual worth.


I can empathize with anyone having a bad day, but a good prof should be able to handle hecklers with grace. Only one side is getting paid to be there and that makes all the difference.

Jim S. said...

When my dad was in college, he attended a class in a stadium classroom; almost everyone was in the first several rows, there was one guy about halfway between the front and the back, and my dad sat in the back alone. In the middle of the lecture, the guy halfway back farted very loudly. The professor, startled, looked at him, and all the students in the front turned around to look at him too. After a few seconds, the bastard turned around and looked at my dad. That story always makes me laugh.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Remember it's Hotel School. These people are learning the hospitality business.

Isn't this the real problem? People are paying $50K a year at Cornell to learn the hotel business? Do you know those salaries are somewhere slightly above working at Jiffy Lube and with longer hours?

LarsPorsena said...

"Remember it's Hotel School. These people are learning the hospitality business.

Isn't this the real problem? People are paying $50K a year at Cornell to learn the hotel business? Do you know those salaries are somewhere slightly above working at Jiffy Lube and with longer hours?

No. Cornell has one of the premier hospitality management programs. Many top chains will hire solely from Cornell graduates. One of the firms that I've dealt with that specializes in the appraisal of hotel/motel properties will only hire Cornell graduates. These kids will all have a job after graduation.

Haiku Guy said...

This professor is right on.

Some technical material is tedious and boring. This should be surprising to no one. If this particular student doesn't like it, he should look into another field.

The professor can either put up with the disruption or end it. It is unfair to the other students in the class to permit one student to waste their time with this self-indulgent silliness.

Hoosier Daddy said...

These kids will all have a job after graduation.

That's awesome. $200K in school debt so you can work at Holiday Inn.

Fred4Pres said...

That had to be set up with the edited views. Correct? Which makes me wonder, was it even real?

Steve said...

While I agree the yawn was probably too loud, I think the professor was out of line. He went to the "distracting the other students" card it seems most professors rely on. Looking at the video, that yawn didn't seem to bother many students in the front--they were able to move on from the few seconds that it lasted. But his tirade cost the students 2 minutes of time. He's compensated to not just teach, but deal with students and distractions during the course of a lecture. I can't imagine that he'd blow up like that for a errant cell phone ring or text, why take exception over a yawn.

And I really don't like that the professor was going to the "rat" your fellow students out card as well. Nobody likes a rat as evidenced by no one in that class pointing the student out.

Of course, the professor did make it seem that it was a reoccurring problem, so I'm sure he's had some patience up to that point. He reached his tipping point and maybe by making a point of it during class, it stopped all future incidences.

I'm still no fan of a professor using their stature to come down on students like that. I believe they should be above it and move on.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Lars, mainly where I am coming from is simply the ridiculous amounts of money paid for tuition at colleges. Frankly, if there is going to be congressional investigations into gouging, forget Exxon, how about looking into the college system? $150 for a textbook? Seriously? Hell I finished undergrad in 1990 and prices were ridiculous then.

Fred4Pres said...

If real, he was not acting as a man. Asking for the class to rat on the yawner is not manly.

He should have bided his time, caught the yawner in the act, and then challenged him to a duel.

With maces.

sonicfrog said...

As a teacher, I would also agree this guy handled this very improperly. Better to simply tell the students that, if they are too tired to stay awake, and can't stop yawning loudly, please get out of the class. That should end the problem.

That said - experience in the classroom lets me know from personal experience that, as a teacher, you're not always going to handle things the right way. For whatever reason... It happens.

sonicfrog said...

PS. I bet the students were awake after that.

AND.... I think both the yawner and the instructor should have stayed at a Days Inn!