Next Time I’m Going to Mention the Bubble Gum

Every semester I prepare a memo for my incoming students about how the class will work. Each memo is tailored to the class, although they all share some similarities. The one for incoming first years is of necessity the longest — I posted a copy of one on this blog a few years ago as A Note for my 1L Torts Class. It hasn’t changed that much since.

In editing the note for this year’s class, I spent maybe too long trying to decide if I should add something to make it clear that I do not want students blowing bubbles in class. (In fact, I don’t particularly want my students chewing gum, but I draw the line at big pink protuberances suddenly appearing in the front of their faces.) On the one hand, I really don’t like it, and think that bubble-gum-blowing is unprofessional and inappropriate for the classroom. On the other hand, I would like to think that everyone knows this, and worry that if I am stating an obvious thing like no-bubble-blowing-in-the-classroom it will justly offend people who don’t need to be told not to expectorate in class either. In the end, I chickened out.

And yes, yet again, we had a bubble-blower this week.

That’s it. Next year I’m putting it in the class policies.

Photo Copyright 2009 by maclauren70. Some rights reserved.

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13 Responses to Next Time I’m Going to Mention the Bubble Gum

  1. elliott.gorelick says:

    Your objection is aesthetic, professional, moral, hygienic, personal? Just trying to understand.

  2. Chris Marsden says:

    I’m torn between ‘are these really postgraduates?’ and ‘at least they still have the ability to surprise you’…although that’s more a negative…

  3. SueAnn says:

    Perhaps you can SHOW them how unprofessional it looks by getting to class, opening a package of bubble gum and then chewing as you teach for a bout 5 minutes, blowing bubbles occasionally. Then stop and address the class, saying that it was an experiment to see how many were offended,or felt disrespected by the sheer lack of courtesy shown by a professor to a student. You might suggest that if they were not offended they should be. You can also tell them that just because represenaties from on subscription databases provide such treats it does not mean that they are welcome in your class.

    • Just me says:

      I don’t think that would work. It would make the prof. look silly. That’s the sort of thing a 9th grade teacher does, not a law school prof. Don’t include the gum in your memo. If you get another bubble blower, just tell them to spit it out and briefly remind them that they aren’t children anymore. Then forget all about it. Doing more hurts your credibility. Act like a high school teacher and expect to be treated like one.

  4. Taylor says:

    As a teacher, you should notify your students of any pet peeves you have, even if they are actions so rude as to be unthinkable to many. Sure, 9 out of 10 students would never do that anyway, but if you’re SO bothered by the one person who does, make it known beforehand.

  5. Taylor says:

    Plus you can consider it payback for the incredibly trivial questions students will be asking you all semester – do you prefer black pen or blue?

  6. Keith says:

    I can give you one better. Last semester, I had a guy (who will remain anonymous) sitting in front of me who would clip his fingernails in class at least once a week.

    I think that qualifies as a hygienic concern.

  7. dave says:

    consider instituting a “did you bring enough for everybody?” policy.

  8. NM says:

    As a student, I can assure you that nobody will ever chew gum in your class after this blog post. Were all too scared.

  9. Tom says:

    Do the class policies include some language warning students that it would be unreasonable to expect a law school class to prepare one for the practice of law? Or, from a broader pespective, that it would be unreasonable to expect to have viable employment prospects upon graduation?

    • No, no more than it discusses course selection, or what happens in other courses. In any case, my understanding is that the Dean has been covering the state of the job market — rather brutally — in some of the mandatory meetings with the first year students.

      By the way, I think “unreasonable to expect to have viable employment prospects upon graduation” overstates the case — rather, “unreasonable to expect to have high-paying employment prospects upon graduation” puts it much better. Which is not to say that in this market some graduates may not find law jobs. But so far, at least, they’re in a minority. The issue for the modal graduate, as I understand it, is the combination of only middling (or even lousy) pay with large (or even massive) student loans.

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