Monday, February 28, 2011

Going Through People's Stuff

I have finally figured out why my students think it's perfectly fine to rummage in my handbag when I leave the classroom. In order to make the task of endless paper grading a little more bearable, I turned on Dr. Phil's Show and discovered that parents who routinely invade their children's personal space and go through their pockets, cell phones, backpacks, and drawers are considered good and responsible parents.

After being brought up in the environment where personal space is not respected, is it surprising that my students have no idea that it is not acceptable to go through people's stuff in their absence?


Pagan Topologist said...

I think you have hit on it.

Melissa said...

That makes sense. Children learn more from how their parents act than from what they say, it seems.

But having read the post linked to this one, I am shocked at the behaviors exhibited by your students. In my experience teaching at rather selective colleges in the Northeast and the South, I have *never* encountered any of these behaviors. Sure, I've had a couple of kids with documented behavioral issues, but even they were not particularly rude, and they were the rare exception, not the rule. And the deans were always fully aware of those students' problems. Whenever a student yawns in my class, they look abashed if they catch my eye, and it only happens when they're bone-tired on an off day.

Besides an occasional yawn, the student behavior you describe is not something I have ever observed at institutions deemed "highly selective" and populated largely, but not exclusively, by upper-middle class students, and I wonder what role class and previous quality of education play in such student behavior.

Might a version of the "broken windows theory" apply in this case?

Clarissa said...

What's the "broken windows theory"?

I can't say I see any significant differences between very rich students, middle-class and poor students in this respect. They don't do it rudely. They do it with this childish naivete like it's the most natural thing in the world.

Canukistani said...

For people who like to rummage and invade others personal space here is an opportunity to rummage with infinite regression through another person's digital personal space.

Clarissa said...

Wow, this is really beautiful. Thanks, Canukistani!

eric said...

I think it's a generational thing, definitely. Even Facebook CEO Zuckerberg (himself quite obviously a member of the "Millennial" generation) stated that "privacy is no longer a cultural value", or something equally cavalier to that effect. Given that today's college-age kids look to him as somewhat of a hero, is this behavior at all surprising?

(And who would have thought that I could come off as an old fart by defending privacy?)