Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Where can I buy an anvil?

If my life were a cartoon, then I'd be the easily excitable character. In the cartoon you'd see my face turning different colors and smoke coming out of my ears whenever I get angry. Whenever you see cartoon characters get like this, it's often right before they drop anvils on people that bug them.
There are times where I have been tempted to drop anvils or something equally heavy on students' cell phones when they start using them in class. Just to clarify: I would never drop the anvil on the student. I'm pretty sure that doing that would eliminate any chances of getting a full-time teaching job. I would snatch the cell phone away from the student, throw it on the ground, and then drop the anvil on the cell phone so that he or she could never use it again. Or, if an anvil was not available (especially since there aren't any stores nearby that sell anvils), I'd settle for one of those big wooden mallets.
I think that some students must think that they become invisible when they use their cell phones in class, because they think I can't see what they're doing. Texting is really big with the undergrads; it's the twenty-first century version of passing notes in class. I want to say, "Dude, I can see what you're doing, so stop it." But I don't say that, because teachers aren't supposed to say stuff like "dude". And most people don't say "dude" anymore; I think that went out in the nineties. And then I get depressed about getting older because my rhetoric is seemingly outdated...
I just say, "Put your cell phone away. It shouldn't be out right now." I let students leave them on because the university has an emergency alert system where they'll text students if anything important happens. But updating your Twitter page or texting your friend about what happened on American Idol IS NOT AN EMERGENCY. Students complain about the ten-page research paper I assign them, but how many pages would a month's worth of their text messages add up to? Besides, it's not like I take out my cell phone and start texting my friends when my students are participating in the class discussion.
I pay attention to what everyone is doing. If I think someone is drifting off, I make a point of including him or her in the discussion. I try to make each class interesting and engaging so that the students will not only pay attention but actually want to learn what I'm teaching them. I'm sorry if learning how to write a thesis statement or interpreting the symbols in Hamlet isn't always as much fun as using your iPhone or your Blackberry, but part of the students' job is not just to show up but also to give the teacher their undivided attention. Otherwise they will miss something important. So unless you want to see me turn into the angry cartoon character, put the cell phone away. Otherwise, I'll start looking for coupons or sales related to anvils.


  1. It's hard to compete with mobiles and video games, isn't it? Good luck. :)

  2. Thanks for the encouragement! Yes, it is hard to compete with them. I've considered using reverse psychology; maybe I'll start using my phone when the students talk in class so that they'll see how distracting it is. :)