Student Expressions of Sentiment

As a student in the UK during the mid to late 60s and a lecturer in the 70s and early 80s there was a distinct and time–honoured code for the lecture audience to express their feelings; loud hissing for dissent and the banging of desks to show approval. Since becoming a university teacher in Australia from the mid 80s I have come to miss these expressions of sentiment that are not known here.

At the end of the last lecture of this semester for me today I was surprised to hear the vigorous banging of desks (or should I say desklets – the type that swing up from the side of a chair). This was due to a significant number of German students in my class studying with us for a semester. They said, of course, this is familiar practice in their homeland. So it brought back memories of old for me.

Since I was safe at least for this semester I asked them about hissing when they were dissatisfied. The whole class were at a loss and I had to demonstrate what I meant. Apparently even in Germany this behaviour is unknown today. I suppose students today are not afraid to voice a clamour when they don’t like what is happening, or better still send a tweet or Facebook status message!

With the first semester next year free of teaching for me I am hoping my discussion of hissing will be forgotten.

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About Michael Rees
Academic in IT interested in Web 2.0 and social media

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