Sometimes its hard not to think my students are brainless.

I know, I know. I’ve been going on about what a great class they are, but today, it was like they were all braindead.

Maybe it was my fault for showing a film first, but I thought it was going to spark some discussion. They were all unusually quiet as they sat in the dark, apart from some really odd rustling noises. I know my class is at lunchtime, but usually they are good about not bringing in a lot of food, and I did particularly mention no smelly food. Today, it was like someone had warm limburger sandwiches, or something. Seriously, what a funk.

I thought the material in Jean Kilbourne’s Killing Us Softly would provoke some good discussion, it usually does. Today, even the big talkers, Mindy, Doug and Amy were quiet and unfocussed. There was a lot of muttering. “…killing…where was…killing.” We’ve discussed metaphors before, and normally they are really good with nuances.

Guy, who sits at the back next to the lights is usually great with the switches, but today he wouldn’t turn the lights on even when I asked him too. “Do you want to open the blinds?” I asked the students sitting on the other side of the room, but there was no response. Fine. I’m cool; we can have our class discussion in the dark. I was starting to feel like there might have been something wrong, but I couldn’t work out what it was. I asked what they thought of the film. Nothing.

“So, do you think advertising does have an effect on your body image?” I asked brightly, trying to spark some dialogue. It was like they didn’t understand the question. They kept talking about brains. Some of them were looking at me very intently. If a class won’t talk, I will babble in self defence, hoping that they will respond. The uncanny silence unnerved me. I kept wondering what they were thinking, and what had changed, but even direct questions elicited nothing more than silent nods or shakes of the head.

There was an odd thunk at the back of the room at one point, and Ben was picking something up off the floor – for a second, it looked like he was picking up his own hand, but it must have been his textbook.

I ended class early, which is really unusual with this group, who will normally keep arguments going for as long as there is class time. They seemed oddly attentive, and after class a number of them clustered around me. “Can I help you with something?” I asked, but there was no response. It was just like they wanted to be around me, like I had something they wanted.

I was a bit irritated, especially since they hadn’t been willing to co-operate in class discussion at all. So, I dismissed them with a tart admonition to make sure they did their reading for tomorrow. Just because it is the end of semester is no reason to completely zone out.

What was this about? 

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3 thoughts on “Sometimes its hard not to think my students are brainless.

  1. I can has post?

    The problem with blogging is that some readers become interested in what you write, and become mentally and emotionally emancipated when they are not regularly fed with your words.

    Reply

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