Cinematic Learning.

Earl and I used to be avid movie goers. We’d go see the latest offerings from Hollywood several times a month. However, we haven’t been to the theatre in ages for a variety of reasons, including “audience participation.”

With the intrusion of cell phones in every nook and cranny of the American existence it seemed that few could resist the urge to talk on their cell phone during the movie. If they weren’t talking on their cell phone they were sending text messages with displays so bright in the dark theatre that it seemed like they were sending out a landing beacon for stray 747s. Those without their cell phones would talk amongst themselves endlessly. What was an enjoyable experience turned into an expensive lesson in frustration. Couple the chatter with the degradation of movie quality and it’s easy to see why we don’t go to the movies anymore.

Which brings me to my latest class at school. It seems that the “chatter amongst yourself” approach that is becoming popular in the theatre is making it’s way to the college classroom. Gone are the days when students would sit quietly, take notes and listen to the lecture that is often pertinent to what the student will do with the rest of their life. People get up to talk on their vibrating cell phone in the hallway, some crossing several times back and forth in front of the instruction. Surly students in the back of the room peck away at their cell phones sending text messages. And in this one class I just finished, groups of students that didn’t do their homework conspire together to come up with a unified answer so they have something to turn in when the professor collects our work.

Sometimes I wish I had a passion for a career that involved all distance learning where I could just sit down without distraction and learn what I need to learn. The engineer in me enjoys sitting down and working out a problem. However, we are fortunate that many of our professors still work in the field. As engineers, the same title that we are striving for, have a lot of valuable information to share with us. At no time in the college setting should the professor have to ask students to stop talking, let alone the FIVE times that she asked today. She finally gave up and said we’re having an exam on Thursday and ended the class 40 minutes early (it’s a two hour class). Sensing my frustration, she pulled me aside at the end of class and told me how she can’t believe how rude the “younger generation” is. I had to agree with her as she took the words out of my mouth.

What’s interesting is that I’ve been asked to be the peer tutor for this class. I’m wondering how many of the chatty ones will show up during tutoring time and basically expect a recap of what they talked through.