Noble: Students are disrespectful in the classroom


The University of Kansas is an educational establishment highly revered for its prominent standards in excellence. Knowing this, would it be surprising to learn that a varying group of KU students enter classrooms everyday displaying an extreme lack of respect? Would it be more shocking to learn that the disrespect is directed at teachers (professors, TAs, and guest speakers) who attempt to provide students with the level of excellence their education deserves? It shouldn’t. Classrooms have a three-spoke wheel of disrespect that keeps on turning.

I must mention first that I’m not simply speaking as a KU student. I’m speaking as a general college student, someone who has attended multiple college campuses including Middlesex Community College in Bedford, Mass., University of Massachusetts Boston and the University here in Lawrence. I have seen disrespect stay unchanged from school to school. I don’t say the following things from a place of superiority or a place of ignorance, only from a place of experience.

The first spoke on the wheel of disrespect that remains unchanged is that students continuously show up to class late. What valid reasons are there for showing up late? Many reasons I’ve heard include staying up too late the night before or having to finish up an assignment right before it’s due. For those that hold excuses for being late, maybe you should assess your priorities more. Do you want the education? Are you in school to satisfy your own goals or someone else’s expectations? Who’s the one that’s truly missing out if you show up late to class? Teachers have found success and are trying to share their wisdom with the students to propel them towards success in professional life. Students need the teacher far more than the teacher need the students.

Teachers are not just hired at random. Teachers are hired because of their commitment to educating men and women for the future of our country. Teachers have spent many years learning and honing their crafts. Teachers spend countless hours every night planning and practicing lectures, writing tests and quizzes, grading papers and exams, while also attending countless meetings with other department faculty. All of this work they have put in so that you, the student, can have a better chance at a future and yet the disrespect is still rampant.

This brings me to the next spoke on the wheel of disrespect involving attending class and being inattentive. Many students sit in class using laptops and cell phones, blatantly ignoring their teacher. Also, there are those students who converse with each other about non-classroom matters during class time. How about you also show respect to students who come to class to learn, not to listen to you drone on about your life. Think about how it may feel if you were the teacher who took time out of your life in order to try to help someone only to have that person focus on everything but what you’re saying? I highly doubt you would be unaffected.

Finally, this three-spoke wheel of disrespect is finished when students decide to pack their belongings relatively early. I use the word “relatively” because some students begin packing long before class ends. The time to leave is once class has ended. Unless there’s a vital need to leave early, it should never happen. All the bag and paper noise combined with the chatter creates a massive disturbance. Imagine trying to give advice to someone who wants help but the person, instead of listening, decides to just get up and walk away. How would you feel? You signed up to attend the class for the specified times listed on your class schedule so show up and stay for the commitment you made.

I understand people have needs outside of the classroom that may keep them from fulfilling their educational obligations, but I also know how a large number of students do act in these ways on a consistent basis. Showing disrespect to those who are trying to improve your life not only is insulting to the teachers but also insulting to the University you claim to have so much respect for.

Noble is a junior majoring in journalism from Boston.

  • Updated Oct. 31, 2012 at 7:19 am