Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pig Ignorant Students

I've posted before on the phenomena of students playing flash games on their laptops, passing the computers between one another in group of six or so. Irritating, rude and hard to understand. Why not stay at home and play, or go down the pub?

My theory: this minority of students are such a bunch of repressed swots that they would feel guilty if they didn't attend each and every lecture. Most of my fellow students are the product of educational hothousing both at school and at home and would probably feel the need to birch themselves should they not attend (physically, if not mentally). I'm getting tired of listening to fellow students conversations: the background level of hubub is unlike anything I've ever experienced during any of my previous degrees (been to uni too often) either in the UK (which was a med school) or in Australis (which wasn't).

I can normally put up with this, but today I had to say something. The irony of ignoring and carrying on a loud conversation whilst an aboriginal lecturer asks for attention and highlights how people's attitudes to indiginous populations need to change seemed lost on the young Australian students in front of me. The fact that the lecturer was effecting a welcome to aboriginal land to all students from where ever they came and was managing to strike a perfectly balanced tone did not help my mood.

However, I let that ride, and said nothing hoping that the students would engage as the lectuer progressed. Bear in mind here that the vast majority of the audience paid respectful attention. This did not include another student in front of me who was taking the opportunity to complete his individual assignment (why do this in a lecture? why not stay at home, you arse?)

Next up, I heard a sniggered comment from behind me when the lecturer informed the auditorium that many aboriginal people lived in Sydney and in particular in a suburb called Blacktown. I looked around to see what the deal was, but couldn't see what was going on or who was having such fund.

So far, so poor.

However, when, during the lecturer's discussion on the intervention, which contained real insights, the girl in front of me picked up her friend's iPhone and started playing some kind of bar tender game. This being the last straw for me, I leaned over:

"Perhaps you might like to listen to what's being said rather than playing a game on your friend' little phone".

The girl at least had the decency to realise that her behaviour was perhaps inappropriate and at least feigned rapt attention for the remaining five minutes.

It's going to take a while before I regain my faith in my fellow students, and the poor behaviour comes from a particular sub-population. Apologies for the lack of proof reading, but I'm a bit angry at the moment.


  1. Good luck to you. I was the oldest medical student in New Zealand for a time.

    I too was amazed at the disrespectful crap towards the back of the room (one hopes this was at the back of the room!) I think when you are ancient you are there for a purpose so evading the point seems stupid. Whereas when you are a kid the point of life is avoiding stuff.

    I got around all that crap by sitting at the front. They malign you for it, but you can't win anyway when you are geriatric.

    Plus with the hearing and the eyesight it just makes sense!

  2. Wow - a comment! I wasn't expecting any so sorry for the delay.

    Good idea, Amnion. I tend to sit in the middle to ensure a degree of anonymity. Unfortunately, the behavior was widespread. Many lecturers assume that when a student is staring at a lap top in front of them, they're taking lecture notes so the students can get away with it... perhaps the very front row is the way forward, but then I'd crick my ancient neck.

    Hope it was went well for you, BTW.