I have been musing over the coverage of Stephen Fry’s twittering . I find it quite refreshing that Mr Fry has taken his readers to task (maybe inadvertently) over the issue of lack of manners. Without having read the whole exchange (and not being a twitter follower myself) it seems that “brumplum” wasn’t particularly nasty or offensive – but yet, it is easy for people to write things online which they would never say in person to anyone’s face. One does seem to need to develop a thick skin in online communities, but I am glad Mr Fry has shown that, even though he is famous and read by thousands, he has feelings too. And I guess one never knows in what frame of mind the recipient of even a little jibe is in.
This seems very timely for me. Last week I lost my cool during a lecture, getting annoyed and stopping lecture 5 minutes early — something I have never done. I usually don’t mind a bit of chatting between students during a lecture, they may even be discussing doubts about the material, and probably need help to stop falling asleep. But a combination of a very hot, stuffy classroom, and a feeling that the lecture wasn’t going well anyway, made me react a bit too strongly to what seemed like students sharing an ongoing joke, maybe even at my expense. Yes, I over-reacted.
Students don’t seem to realize that, even in a room full of students, that lecturers are trying to communicate with *each* member of the audience. They are looking for feedback, they are waiting for encouragement, they may be feeling insecure. So, *each* student can make a difference in how a lecture goes. A lecturer’s scanning of a room may stop at you for just a second, but during that second you may have made the lecturer’s day if you had a spark of interest in your eyes, and therefore encouraged them to give that little bit extra, and make the lecture more enjoyable to all.