Have you ever been in a public place and overheard a conversation you wished you had not? Yes, I have too, and I'm about to share it with you.
Let me set the scene. People sit at small tables enjoying each other's company while they eat a light lunch and drink a bit of coffee. Music plays softly, a backdrop to the gentle hum of conversation. Suddenly, a voice cuts through my concentration. It grates, not because of the tone or volume but because of the words.
I sigh and put my work aside.
Two university students sit nearby, young and attractive with flawless complexions. I believe they were working on an essay for a religious studies course. Their conversation about faith could have been deep. Indeed, one offered insightful comments and asked interesting questions. The other told anecdotes about court cases in which the defendants used examples of priests getting away with rape as a reason that they should be able to do the same. She told these stories to her friend in a gossipy tone. She made inflammatory statements and said nothing to back them up with facts. She repeated her comments and anecdotes over and over again. The comments she made had no bearing on their discussion of faith. Meanwhile, she texted other people questions about faith, laughed at their responses and proceeded to work on her essay, using others' thoughts as her own.
When she said, "I never participate in class discussions. They move too fast," my jaw just about hit the floor. Being a teacher, part of me wanted to exclaim that there is no good reason not to participate in class discussions while the other part of me decided that may not be such a bad thing.