Should students in college be allowed to talk and act however they want within the classroom as long as it’s not disruptive?

Answered Dec 14, 2019

This question contains a very misguided assumption, or excuse. Which suggests that, it may have been asked by a student who feels entitled to talk and act inappropriately in class.

As a student, I paid in money and time to show up for classes. The function of the classes was to listen to a qualified teacher explain the material. This function did not involve listening to classmates talking about irrelevant things, socialising with each other, etc.

When I talked in class, it was generally to engage the teacher, to ask or answer a question about the material. And did so in a polite, respectful way.

The way I acted involved watching and listening attentively, taking notes. I always used pen and paper. I left my computer at home, and my phone in my bag.

In labs, there might be some waiting time, while something boils or incubates, and I occasionally made very brief conversation during that. But mainly focused on the tasks going on.

I suppose you could view that as talking and acting however I wanted, without being disruptive.

Showing a pattern of being diligent, serious, and respectful, helps in cultivating positive relations with teachers and classmates. This has proven very valuable for me in dealing with them outside of classrooms.

However, if you are in a classroom, while the teacher is talking, then your irrelevant talking and socialising is, by definition, disruptive. It is also disrespectful, to the teacher, and to the other students.

I had one lecturer openly state that, as a general principle, if people weren’t interested in listening and learning, then he wanted them to just stay away. And I also witnessed a couple of other lecturers say a very specific, individual, “If you don’t want to be here, I’m going to ask you to leave the room”.

Also, when you are talking and socialising, you cannot be listening to the teacher. So you cannot be learning, or benefiting from the class. So you might ask yourself why you paid in money and time to show up and sit in that room?

Lastly, you are preparing to eventually move forward from your present situation. You may want a personal recommendation or approval for postgraduate study, or for a job. What effect do you think your classroom behaviour might have on that?

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