Guest Blog: Student excuses – What do you think?

Many semesters ago, a student asked me what I like to do in my free time. I usually reply that I like to read about whatever it is I’m teaching. But one time I responded, “I like turtles.” More than half the class busted into laughter.

Now, if you’re not familiar, the line comes from a very short video from a live news report. The reporter asked the kid, who had his face painted as zombie (which should have immediately warned the reporter not to talk to this kid) what he thought of the fair. The kid simply replied with the non sequitur, “I like turtles.” Twenty-five million people have watched this 18-second video. For some reason, it went viral.

There are many examples of this phenomenon: the Star Wars kid, David after Dentist, the laughing baby, and any number of flash mobs, which ironically enough are typically very well-organized and very well-planed thereby making the name “flash mob” somewhat inappropriate.

But there is something to be said about how viral videos work. The word viral comes from the idea that a virus infects people. Like viruses, some viral videos infect everyone and some people are susceptible to a particular virus more than others. Everyone loves a laughing baby, but not everyone is so excited about a four-minute cartoon about a teacher talking to a student during office hours. This is true, of course, except for some professors.

There is a video that is viral among a number of professors. The video starts with a student asking, “I missed the last class, did we do anything important?” It’s an ill-phrased question that has been asked many times and answered many times in a considerate manner. But what if the professor responded in an ill-considered manner with a few choice words? This.

This video might be worthy for some students to see. Now, there are some implications of that statement so let me say that I’m confident that not all professors (at Rider and elsewhere) think this way, and not all students are like this; however, I suspect that many students will see this in other students but not be willing to admit this about themselves as one student told me after seeing the video.

But aside from all that, I’m curious why this video is so popular with many (not all) professors. Would a student give this video much thought or just simply dismiss it based on any number of reasons. I’m not sure.

I wrote this not to share a random video that many have shared with me. I wrote this to make full use of what a blog allows: a dialogue. So, I’m not sure what a student would think about this video, so I’m asking, what do you think?

-Dr. David R. Dewberry

Assistant Professor, Communication and Journalism

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