Classroom etiquette doesn’t stop in high school

Where diverse perspectives and opinions converge, whataboutism can impede intellectual growth and hinder the development of critical thinking skills. | Heidi Cuevas, PantherNOW

Ariana Rodriguez | Staff Writer

University is much different than high school: you can choose not to go to class or leave early and even show up late. However, classroom etiquette doesn’t disappear the moment you get your high school diploma.

On numerous occasions during my time at FIU, students ask questions that derail the professor from the original lecture topic. In one of my classes, I’ve heard students ask questions that have nothing to do with the lecture, such as extra credit opportunities or bringing up concepts from previous chapters that have nothing to do with the topic at hand.

It’s important for us all to take a step back and be thorough with our words and intentions. While there is no such thing as a stupid question, there are unnecessary questions. 

Harking the professor while other students are trying to learn is not only rude, but disrespectful to everyone in the room. I see many students that lack classroom etiquette, such as asking question after question instead of saving them for after the lecture.

We all know the teacher’s pet, but there’s nothing worse than someone trying to out-professor the professor. We’re bound to come across individuals who arrogantly think they’re smarter than everyone else, and in a higher education setting, it feels rampant.

This is sometimes referred to as whataboutism  which is an obnoxious tactic to pull out during arguments to flex one’s knowledge while effectively wasting people’s time. 

This kind of behavior is completely unprofessional, especially in the classroom setting. Walking into the classroom, I expect the professor with earned degrees to lecture, not a student. 

The last thing I want to hear is a student bragging about themself through obnoxious questions that challenge and interrogate rather than explore and investigate.

In a college setting, where diverse perspectives and opinions converge, whataboutism can impede intellectual growth and hinder the development of critical thinking skills. 

When individuals resort to deflecting discussions with unrelated examples or by questioning the motives of others, the focus shifts away from constructive dialogue. 

To absorb class time with galling questions is not only disrespectful – it’s self-absorbent.

The tendency to prioritize individual interests over collective well-being can be detrimental to the learning environment. Selfish behavior, whether in the form of whataboutism or other self-centered actions, can contribute to a toxic atmosphere that stifles collaboration, empathy, and the exchange of ideas. 

At FIU, students have opportunities to engage with a wide array of perspectives, however when individuals prioritize their own interests at the expense of others the potential for growth is compromised.

Asking questions in the classroom is not the issue. Asking something that probably five other students want to ask but are too shy is beneficial since it breaks barriers in the classroom to allow a more welcoming environment. 

It’s crucial to promote a culture of open-mindedness, empathy, and collaboration. Encouraging students to actively listen to different perspectives, is a necessity in college, but so is learning

Emphasizing the importance of collective responsibility and the impact of individual actions on the overall learning environment can contribute to a sense of shared purpose and encourage students to prioritize the well-being of the community over narrow self-interest.

Overall, students need to be more mindful of what they say rather than feel discouraged. Even though questions are encouraged, not all questions are appropriate. Rather than eating up valuable class time, it’s vital to have empathy for others and understand that some questions can be saved for later.


The opinions presented on this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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