A University of Oklahoma journalism professor, working without notes, no doubt, told students that they have to keep up with the times and with social media. To illustrate his point, he compared “OK, Boomer,” a putdown for older people, to the N-word, which he said in front of the class.
Some students left and pother protested, according to the student-run OUDaily.com.
They are not the same, he soon concluded, and apologized. In an email titled, “My apology,” He wrote, “I realize the word is hurtful and infuses the racial divisions of our country, past and present. Use of this word is inappropriate in any — especially educational — settings.”
The situation has not been resolved, but illustrates how a pause to think through things is the best choice a professor can make at the front of a classroom when walking on that kind of ice.
The pause, or a breath, is just the kind of thing we talk about in “To My Professor: Student Voices for Great College Teaching,” published by a class at Michigan State University, when race issues come up.
Stopping, rather than continuing, could have saved everyone a lot of pain. The book is filled with miscues that students have observed, with solution strategies from master teachers. Get “To My Professor” from our publisher, Front Edge Publishing, or from Amazon.
(We also wrote a double guide about Millennials and Gen X — but not Boomers.)