Internalizing Externalities

Will Baude on the rudeness of his classmates:

I don’t mind when students slip into the back of a lecture hall late, but when the doors are in the front of the room and the teacher’s voice is easily overwhelmed, please have courtesy and remember that a late entry imposes costs on punctual students, and that 12(!) late entries in the course of a 50-minute class tempt me to resort to vigilante retaliation. If I’m ever an instructor, I will lock the doors to my classroom a few minutes after I start lecturing, to internalize the externalities.

When I was an instructor, I did precisely that.

FILED UNDER: Education,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Daniel Barno says:

    I’ve had the pleasure of being disrupted on many ocassions in class by these types. One class this semester has a student (who shall remain nameless) who came into class late day after day, until the Professor finally confronted the student, politely.

    The student actually had the nerve to call the professor a racist and told him he talked condescending to the students.

    Funny… I personally feel he has been the best professor i’ve had at my University so far.

  2. Steven says:

    The door-locking thing can work wonders, to be sure.

  3. Kevin Drum says:

    You locked the door? It’s not that I don’t sympathize, mind you, but didn’t the fire marshal have some unkind thoughts about that solution?

  4. It’s not that I don’t sympathize, mind you, but didn’t the fire marshal have some unkind thoughts about that solution?

    No, for he had both a baseball bat and megaphone in a touching tale of overcoming adversity in the face of overwhelming odds.

    My question is this: 50 minutes law school classes? WTF?

  5. Steven says:

    The doors are unlocked on the inside, but locked on the outside.

  6. Hmm, I’ve never (deliberately) locked the door of my classroom, but have done it accidentally on occassion. My MO is to just stop and glare at the latecomer (if he/she is disruptive; if not, I don’t really care), which invites the class to do the same.

    Re 50 minute classes: Will Baude is an undergrad at UC, not a law student.

  7. Well, that’d explain it…

  8. SwampWoman says:

    My profs in the business side had a tendency to be sticklers for schedules and quiet in the classroom; same for the sciences. I took a few electives over in the education department, and it was nonstop talking during the entire class period and the prof had no control over the classroom of rowdy future teachers whatsoever. Thought it was pretty funny.