Ways to deal with rude students in class

Regarding your March 21 article, "Professors struggle to rout out rudeness": While instructors have classroom management responsibilities, it is also true that students have a vested interest in promoting a culture of civility that supports debate and dialogue.

In a junior-level course that I teach, an abrasive and belligerent student prompted two classmates to meet with the judicial affairs officer to learn how they might protect their rights to a classroom free from disruption.

The next class, when the disruptive student was absent, they reported what they learned. The class then decided to give the student one last opportunity to shape up or they would file a formal complaint. The disruptive student chose to withdraw from the class.

Regarding the notion of students as consumers: It suggests that obtaining an education is no different than purchasing an appliance or obtaining a membership to a health club. As a colleague once described, we provide the environment, the resources, and the faculty. Students who take the utmost advantage of what we provide gain the precious "commodity" of an education. But an education, like muscle and fitness, does not come without the investment of effort and dedication. An education is not an appliance. A student is not a consumer.

David Bozak Oswego, N.Y.

To excuse college students' rude behavior by saying they "haven't been prepared for the culture of higher learning" is absurd. My teaching experience has shown that some students will be as obnoxious as they're allowed to be. Shame on professors who suffer such boorishness.

Jim H. Thompson Bozeman, Mont.

My wife and I both teach at a middle-size public university and we often compare notes on this issue. The audacity of some students never ceases to amaze us.

The problem of rude behavior on the part of students is very widespread. As professors, our job is to teach the subject in which we have considerable expertise. It is also to help students learn how to think at a higher level. I can't do either while lecturing as a student uses a cellphone in class or battling with students who have never been to a single lecture over why they failed the last exam.

Michael W. Garner Jacksonville, Fla.

I am professor emeritus at Monterey Peninsula College.I have been teaching since 1957, and over those years I have sometimes come in contact with rude students.However, I don't think it is more widespread now than it has ever been.The main problem is that professors are not taught how to teach.Either they learn through trial and error, as I did, or they have some innate ability that overcomes the hurdles. Rudeness becomes disruptive when it is not recognized and dealt with early on.

Carl Pohlhammer Monterey, Calif.

Women working on the Web

Your article "Women work the Web" (March 20) focuses on women succeeding on the Internet because of marketing and branding experience. I don't disagree with that statement (I'm in marketing), but I do think it short-changes the women who are talented in the technical field. For example, at www.prairielaw.com, our chief technology officer is a woman who is leading our team of both male and female "techies."

I do praise your article for covering women on the Internet. However, the overall message to me said something like: "Men should be doctors, women should be nurses. Now there is a new hospital where a lot of women can be head nurses because they still can't be doctors."

Michelle Bacon Clearwater, Fla.

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(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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