Saturday, December 13, 2008

students saving money

this semester, for the first time ever, i included the following rule in intro to media studies:

Starting Tuesday (September 2), no drinking out of non-reusable containers. Be creative with your thirst-quenching solutions.

i wasn't sure if it was going to work, but i knew it was worth trying. on the first day of classes, i announced, "if you're thirsty, get a thermos and fill it with delicious california tap water. if you need caffeine, get a mug and fill it with coffee." then i paused and took a refreshing gulp or two out of my beloved blue bottle and said, "ahhhh."

throughout the semester, there were only a few infractions - a plastic water bottle accidentally brought to class, a can of red bull smuggled (unsuccessfully) into the back of class - but overall the students easily abided.

last tuesday was the last day of class for fall semester. we ate. we talked excitedly about our wikipedia project. we watched a few youtube clips, including human tetris, lemon baby, and guy vomiting on live tv news.

and then, before i left the room to allow students to fill out teacher evaluations, i asked them to take a moment to think about how much money we saved. i asked: "if i hadn't banned plastic bottles and aluminum cans and paper coffee cups, how many of you would have bought and brought to class a soda or bottled water or a latte?" i then asked the students to consider that intro met twice a week for the last fifteen weeks. the students sit in rows so i asked each row to calculate their totals. i walked over to the chalkboard and began adding up our totals.

the morning class saved $812.50

the afternoon class saved $1,528

in all, my students saved $2,340.50, a pretty nice chunk of change.

"imagine," i think i remember saying to my students, "how much money you'd save if you did this with all of your classes for your remaining time here at USF?" and i think i remember smiling upon hearing the distinct buzz of many brains calculating collectively.


Anonymous said...

This is brilliant. Alas, I suspect it is unenforceable with 200 students.

Anonymous said...

hey jonathan!

i think it's totally enforceable in a large lecture hall, especially with your kind of classroom presence. if you have a student drinking from a plastic bottle, stop your lecture, stare at the student for 30 seconds (which, for the student, will seem like an eternity), walk over to where the student is sitting, ask for his or her name, and then announce that they have lost 2 or 3 or 5 points for not drinking out of a reusable container. cooly walk back to where you lecture and, with out missing a step, launch back into your lecture.

i can practically promise you that the student will never again bring a plastic bottle to class. nor will, i predict, the rest of your students. =)

kq said...

the steps you outline here: the same ones i use when students sport DUKE gear in my classes.

Stephanie Cooper said...

I would just like to say that I saved so much because of your rule! I used to go through at the very least 6 bottles a day...and now I do not remember the last water bottle that I bought! I bring my reusable to the gym, its always in my purse...never leave my side! Thanks Prof. Silver!

Anonymous said...

stephanie - so, so cool. it's a teacher's dream to have what we discuss and do in the classroom make its way into everyday life and your comment fulfills that dream perfectly. thanks for taking the time to comment and i'll look forward to seeing you (and your resuable bottle) on campus in spring.

Anonymous said...

They should make Human Tetris into a real video game -- NES original of course