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Floating Forum #2: Class Dynamics

justouttheasylum's picture

Hello everyone. Last Tuesday's class was quite exciting and so while I can understand everyone's enthusiasm, I cannot understand the violation of Anne's first day rule: no raising of the hand while another person is talking.

I was happy to hear her views about it. I have encountered the phenomena in a number of my classes and I find it rude. I have seen people raise their hand noticeably, raise their hand and put it down on the desk, or run it through their hair, only to raise it back up again. It's really distracting when my eyes are focused on the speaker and someone's hand shoots up in my peripheral vision and I find myself turning my head. More so, I find that it shows you don't really care what the other person is saying because you're too busy trying to remember the point you were going to make.

I spoke with Anne about it after class and she suggested I post it on the forum. Since I accept that my way is not the only way (keeping our hands down and paying attention until the speaker is through), I wanted to hear what other people's thoughts about this were. Should we abolish the hand raising all together and allow people to speak when they have an opinion? Should we be more mindful of paying attention when others are speaking and then allow a few seconds to go by before we raise our hands? I am pretty open to anything, I just found it a bit disconcerting that we weren't giving our full attention to one another.

Asia G.

skindeep's picture

breaking the habit

Once again I feel compelled to apoligise because like Rae, I have an unhealthy habit of raising my hand when someone is talking. I do not do it out of disrespect but because I'm so wrapped up in the conversation and as the thoughts enter my mind, my hand atomatically rises. It is purely unconscious and I will be making a greater effort to control it.

I love the idea of not raising your hand when you want to speak and instead being more aware of yourself, your thoughts and those around you, so that conversation is allowed to flow more freely. Raising my hand has been ingrained into me since I was five years old, and I hope that by the end of this semester, I have broken out of it.

rae's picture

Trying not to raise my hand

While I agree that it is really important to respect people when they are talking, I feel that you may have misinterpreted some people's gestures. You mentioned that you've seen people "raise their hand and put it down on the desk, or run it through their hair, only to raise it back up again," and you feel that it shows that people "don't really care what the other person is saying." 

I respectfully disagree, at least in some cases. I feel that for myself, at least, raising my hand when I have something I wish to say is so ingrained in me that it's sometimes more of a reflex than a conscious decision. Generally, I raise my hand when I am interested in what someone is saying, not because I don't care. I realize that sometimes we can focus too much on what we plan to say than what the current speaker is saying, and that isn't good. I'm not trying to excuse that. And I'm sorry if it's distracting when people raise their hands (and I mean this sincerely, which might be difficult to tell given that I'm typing and not speaking). I really am trying to be better about not raising my hand until after someone is completely done speaking. Unfortunately, it's still rather a work in progress; some days I do better than others. And sometimes, I have an idea, raise my hand, realize that my hand is raised and might be signaling that I'm not paying attention, and lower my hand as soon as my brain has made all of the appropriate connections. Hopefully, that will happen fewer times as the semester goes on.

I think that while it sounds good in theory to wait and process a few seconds after someone is done speaking, conversation doesn't always happen in a nice and measured fashion. And I don't know how to pause my thoughts; I really try to give my full attention to whoever is speaking when I've got something to say, I really do, but I think it's common for people to think of responses while they listen. It's why conversations often don't consist of one person speaking, then a long pause as the second person formulates all of their thoughts, then the second person speaking, and so on. We may not always be very good at multitasking in listening and thinking at the same time, admittedly, but I think that it's something people do a lot.

And sometimes people are rude and aren't paying attention to the speaker when they have their hands raised and are waiting to be called upon. I'm not trying to deny that. And sometimes the rude person is me. I'm not trying to deny that, either, although I try not to be that person very often. I just think that it's not always the case that people who raise their hands while others are talking aren't paying attention. And I don't know what we should do; I have no brilliant solution. Until we come up with something else, I guess I'm just going to keep trying to do better at not raising my hand while someone's talking.