1. Nice piece. The only thing that surprised me was your surprise at what your students told you. Well, that and the reply. Human beings — and especially young ones — are social animals. I would think the #1 reason to want to return to the classroom for a student is to be back among other students and people more generally.

    • They might well have mentioned that. I was summarizing one particular line of thought relevant to the piece by one particular person (that others agreed with), but that doesn’t exclude other answers they may have given. Also, this was late in the Spring of 2020, so I’m fairly sure the starvation for sociality was in its fullest force yet. I’m also quite sure that in our area of North Carolina, at least, students probably were still seeing each other, at least somewhat, face to face.

  2. “Maybe instead of saying that we remember how to get to certain places, we should say that most of the time we remember how to navigate the cues that get us to certain places.”

    Like when Chief Wild Eagle explained to his friends from Fort Courage how to get to a certain place. You had to turn right at the rock that looked like a bear, then left at the bear that looked like a rock.

  3. A lovely retrospection. I’ve often reflected on age appropriate cultural clues. At some point in one’s life you realize you’ve reached the age where you better be wearing a tracksuit or athletic shorts to go running in the street otherwise people think something is amiss. Look… Prof K squared is sitting on the floor reading. Is he cool or does he just think he is? Certain ages are expected to look and act in certain ways or face public scrutiny and looks askance. Act your age.
    Similar, comments are often expressed when school districts consider school uniforms. It’s not only place but arguably apparel that sets the mind to the task at hand.

    Not long ago NPR interviewed a gentleman who did a research survey on Covid stay at home workers. And the finding pretty much reflected the opinions of your students. Happiness and productivity were better achieved at the workplace, with some exceptions.

    • Thanks. Regarding ‘age appropriate’ cultural cues, it was only when writing this did I think – I’d never explicitly thought it before – about how it never seemed awkward for students to sit on the floor, but it would have been strange indeed for faculty to do so. Not sure if that is a function of age so much as role, as I’ve seen older students also sit on the floor. I suspect it is more to do with ‘act your role’ than ‘act your age’ but I could be wrong.

  4. I guess I am very weird! I also work in academia, and have frequently sat on the floor to read, even with the door open. At least once a colleague did indeed seem to be amused to see me do that. I almost always leave the door to my office open, but I have been known to close the door for a bit so I can lay down on the floor to read…

    On the other hand, I also probably wouldn’t do this if I didn’t know very well all the faculty, staff, and students, who enter the building (which is rather isolated, so there is never any random foot traffic).

    • Yes, I found Kevin’s intuitions in this regard quite eccentric. I too have sat on the floor more times than I can count, and I always dressed casual — even down — while teaching. Jeans, sneakers, and rock or movie t-shirts are common attire for me.

      Doesn’t really affect Kevin’s underlying point, but it is interesting to contrast peoples’ conceptions of what it means to be “professional” or to “act like an adult.”

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