We can all agree that lectures can be a little boring. It can be especially hard to pay attention when the professor is soft-spoken or continues talking after class time has ended. I know many students agree with me because, lately, I have often seen my classmates get up and leave class before the professor has finished speaking.
Even if a class is not what you hoped for, even if the professor bores you to tears, in general, professors deserve your respect. Most of them are experts in their field, especially here at NYU. All of the faculty have done something to deserve the privilege of standing in front of us to share their knowledge and wisdom.
When students simply get up and walk out of class, it sends a clear message to the professor: your lecture is not worth my precious time. If your parents were there, it would send a clear message to them: this class isn’t worth your money.
Students start filing out of some of my lectures five minutes before the class is supposed to end, so this isn’t a matter of the professor taking up too much time.
I love the camaraderie between professors and students at NYU. I call nearly all my professors by their first names. But there is a fine line between being comfortable with your professor and showing them disrespect.
It is already poor etiquette for most of us to Facebook chat or look at pictures of cats during class, but leaving the room while the professor is talking is simply rude and disrespectful.
Professors do bear some responsibility. It is their job to make the material interesting enough for students to want to stay and learn. Professors should see students leaving their classes as a sign that they are not holding the students’ interests. Still, boredom is not an excuse to simply get up and leave.
Of course, I understand that many students have legitimate reasons for leaving class early, such as appointments that they need to keep. I assume that these students let the professor know in advance that they can’t stay for the duration of the alotted class time. But seeing students leaving lecture halls in droves well before class finishes leads me to conclude that many are simply skipping out early. Whether it’s because students are bored or because they feel they have something better to do, in the end, the professor is disrespected and students miss out on important class time.
Next time you realize you only have five minutes left in class and start packing your things, remember the work that your professor put into his or her lecture as well as his or her career just to get to that point. Remember that the last five minutes could contain the most important material. Remember the thousands of dollars we pay for each class at NYU.
Try to stay in your seat a little longer. It won’t kill you, and you just might learn something.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 19 print edition. Jessica Littman is deputy opinion editor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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