Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Questionable Material

When I decided to major in English and become a teacher, I was left with the option of elementary, secondary or higher education. I knew elementary wasn't my route because in addition to teaching English, I would also have to teach math, science, social studies, etc. No thanks. Plus, as much as I love children, I knew I didn't have the patience.

I also strayed away from secondary education because I wasn't sure I wanted to teach English from 8-3:30, Monday-Friday. I liked the flexibility of a college teaching schedule and I knew that would work better for me in the long run. Also, I enjoyed working with students who were older, more mature and more focused on their school work. And for the most part, my students are all of these things. 

But every now and then, I get a few students who make me feel like an elementary teacher. I have a few friends and relatives that teach kindergarten, 2nd, 3rd and 5th grade and I hear a lot of funny stories about kids humping desks, smearing poop on the walls in the bathroom, talking openly about their parents domestic disputes, etc. Sad thing is...I still encounter many of these things as a college instructor. And in addition to these, I also get to deal with kids coming in drunk, kids making out in the back of my computer lab, kids texting and facebooking the entire class session, etc. Luckily, I also get a lot of adult learners each semester who do a great job of whipping these unruly delinquents into shape. They are truly my saving grace, since I don't have the luxury of calling their parents to complain. I let the other "parents" in my class do the disciplining.

So a few class periods ago, one of my adults learners approached me and said:

"I just want you to know that {Bob} was googling something in class today and I saw some "questionable material" pop up on the screen. I don't know if you can or need to do anything about this, but I just thought I would let you know". 

Sadly, {Bob} is not the first or last student to "accidentally" look up porn in class...especially when it is all over the Internet. So while I appreciated the warning, I wasn't really going to approach {Bob} about this and embarrass him. 

But then tonight, I was watching TV and I saw a story on colleges cracking down on Internet use in classrooms because of growing problems with Facebook, gaming and pornography. They also said that some schools were going to start holding teachers responsible for this problem because they are allowing students to be on the Internet during class time. So this got me thinking...if {Bob} is in the back of my class watching Buffy the Vampire Layer...will I get in trouble for "letting" this happen? Should I make all my students turn off their computers during class and keep their hands where I can see them? Should I call {Bob} out and let him know that I know that he was looking at boobs while I was talking about subject/verb agreements? And what if it was a mistake? I know I accidentally stumbled across some "questionable material" once when I was searching for a recipe for "clam sauce". Sick. So my question tonight friends is...have any of you stumbled across some "questionable material" while doing an innocent google search? Do you think I need to call {Bob} out on his little mistake, or chalk it up to a google error? Oh the drama of college.



  1. See, if you taught elementary or secondary education you wouldn't have to worry - I think they are all blocked! Heck, my corporate job even had them blocked!

  2. I would make a generalized comment about appropriate internet use in the classroom. Then perhaps find a way to block sites... not sure if that will solve anything, but you save yourself from a one on one with "bob" and being in an uncomfortable position.

  3. See...I thought everything was blocked too! I didn't think that students could look at those sites on a campus computer but the adult in my class swears he/she saw something on he screen. I am afraid to do a search myself because if it isn't blocked, then here I am looking up this kind of stuff! You are right...maybe just a friendly reminder to the whole class is what I need to do.

  4. A friendly reminder... or a one-on-one conversation with the student??

    I had a cheater in class when I was teaching at my University and we had a "chat" one day after class. He was mortified over being spoken to directly--and given your embarrassing subject matter, I'll bet your student would be too. Might be enough to 'scare him straight.'

    Let us know what happens!

  5. I tried looking up Dick's sporting goods by just typing in Wrong.

  6. Christina - Thanks for the tip! I might have to do that just to cover my bootie and make sure that he knows that I know.

    Ryan - I just about peed my pants over that one. Haha!


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