Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Force is Strong in This Classroom

That is to say that I am administering my final exam in basic reporting and have just discovered that the USF wireless network is available on the second floor of Cowell Hall so I can read email, post, behave as if I am in a coffee shop killing time instead of doing work.

Actually, that is too self critical. For the next two hours it is my job to be *available* to the students, in what one might call the street corner, not the coffee shop mode.

The students all look gratifyingly intent. Occasionally, they come up to the desk with questions, mostly to confirm a sound conclusion about some "nuance" in the drill -- for example, some little dirty trick of mine designed to catch them out such as multiple spellings of a name in the "cop notes." I encourage them to ask ask ask up to the point of irritating the person they are asking -- not me; I don't do irritation -- but then to continue in spite of that irritation.

Knowing how not to irritate, or at least to delay the onset of irritation, is a fine reportorial tool.

But better to irritate than not to ask. Perhaps, with a different set of students, in the matter of asking one would teach the art of it and the simple fact of doing it with equal emphasis. But our students are very very nice. When that gets in the way of persistence in asking questions then it's not so nice.

One example: This semester many in class were coming back with stories in which their sources were ageless; that is, they thought that was a very rude question to ask someone who was not visibly and transcendently young.

Not so, I said, gladly telling them my age.

At which point their sharp intake of breath created a vacuum in the room.

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