Monday, July 31, 2017

Jackie Johnson's Increasing Humidity Forecast

I started updating my fall syllabi at the office today, and got further along on my American government classes than I expected. I'm making some significant additions to the syllabus in terms of expectations and decorum. Today's youth mobile phone/social media culture is sometimes shocking in its extreme casualness. The key word now is "messaging." Students don't see themselves as emailing professors a formal communication, addressed appropriately with the proper honorific (like "Hi Dr. Douglas"). Nope, they'll "message" you on their iPhones just as casually as if they were texting their best friends. They don't think twice about it. One student last semester, asking for the URL for the course's online digital textbook, just wrote "Link." That's it. He was asking me to send him the link to the digital book, but each class section has a different URL, since the proprietary software creates a unique roster for each class at my dashboard. And of course, you want to include a polite greeting when you're contacting your professors, or you'd think. I explain this to students, of course, and it's in the course syllabus; but they tune out in class (or they've forgotten what I've gone over) and they don't read their syllabi. I'm including much more formal instructions on email communications this semester, and I'm giving a brief quiz on the syllabus, for credit/no credit, at the beginning of the second week. (I'm also having students "pre-read" a couple of New York Times op-eds, including "U Can't Talk to Ur Professor Like This.")

A lot of students aren't pleased that I'm a stickler for standards and decorum. Often I don't have the most "popular" student evaluations, because don't cave to the culture's lowest-common-denominator. Of course, I don't care about being popular. I care about imparting values and professional standards, as well as a rigorous political science curriculum and good writing. Sometimes it feels like a losing battle, but fortunately I get enough positive feedback from time to time to know I'm making difference.

In any case, here's the lovely Ms. Jackie with the forecast, for CBS News 2 Los Angeles: