Image by: mnpix
I normally post on Thursdays, and shall do so this week, but I had something happening to me last night that I’ve got to get off of my chest.
If you’ve been reading here for a while, then you’ve likely seen me say that I am going into the education field. In fact, I’m enrolled in a program which will see me with my Master’s of Education in a little over a year. I have class every Tuesday night and the story I am about to recount took place during class. It left me a little shocked and more than a little angry.
The professors for our classes don’t have too much time to get to now us. We only have each one of them for an eight week period, so they often have exercises that they use to get to know us. Invariably I mention that I’m a gamer during those exercises. Every professor that I’ve had has seemed to have no problem with this even though I usually just say “I play Dungeons and Dragons” because it’s a game whose name most people have heard.
During class last night, the professor was talking about PAT, or Preferred Activity Time, where the teacher has a game or other fun activity that the students can do as a reward for doing the work they may or may not enjoy. As he was talking about this subject, he gave an example of a game he would not use. He said, “for example, I wouldn’t choose something like, say, Dungeons and Dragons.”
At this point, I’m a bit intrigued. Being someone who hopes to use gaming in the classroom, I thought he might take that opportunity to talk about why it might be better to play an RPG after school when you’ve got more time, or that all of the students might not be comfortable with the social interaction. Unfortunately, I was wrong. He continued, “I wouldn’t want something negative like that in my classroom.” Wait, what?
I kind of felt like the whole room paused for a second and looked at me, though that might be my imagination. I get along with my classmates and they know I’m a gamer. The professor kept talking as he walked to the front of the room. The person sitting next to me said something to me, I don’t remember what, and the professor asked if there was anything our part of the room want ed to contribute. I replied, “I play D&D every week.” His answer?
“Well, I’m not going to tell you what you should be doing in your personal life.” Then he moved on with his lecture.
As one might imagine, I kind of checked out for the rest of class. I mean, I had heard of people having negative opinions of D&D, and RPGs in general, but I had never had one thrown at me before, especially not in the middle of class. It seemed malicious. Of all of the examples he could have chosen, he went with the one that I love. As well, he didn’t mention its appropriateness from a classroom perspective, he went at it from a moral perspective. Unless I did something to upset him, I can’t see where his comment came from. I felt attacked. It doesn’t help that I attend a conservative university, so when it happened, I immediately started thinking that the setting contributed to it having happened.
I’ve been thinking about this since it happened. I talked it over with my wife and with a classmate with whom I carpool. I’ve come to a few conclusions about it all.
1. Apparently, hatred or RPGs and those who play them is alive and well.
I have never gotten that kind of nonsense from anyone before. People might laugh a little or roll their eyes, but I’ve never had my gaming hobby typed as something negative, and especially not to my face in a group setting. I had thought that nastiness like that had died out. Sadly, I was mistaken.
2. Ultimately, he can have his opinion.
Since it didn’t come up within a context where I felt the need to defend the hobby, I let it go. I felt that it wasn’t appropriate for him to use the example in that was, as it wasn’t contextually appropriate for the discussion we were having. It also would not have been an appropriate time to take up arms and defend the hobby. Such a discussion, at that time, would have had no bearing on the class discussion and I didn’t want to be the one to derail things. Outside of the context of class, if he wants to hate RPGs, that’s his right. I don’t think that they’re for everyone, but they’re certainly not something evil.
3. What really bothers me is that it happened during class.
Like I said, he can have his opinions. What gets me is that it felt like I was the target of an unprovoked verbal attack from a professor in a Classroom Management Class. The irony of that is thick and rich. This man, whose opinion I am supposed to respect on the matter, took it upon himself to verbally bash a student and his hobby for no apparent reason and it happened in a class that is supposed to teach us how to effectively manage out classrooms. Way to model what you teach, sir.
When all is said and done, I doubt that anything substantive will come of this incident. If I see a repetition of his behavior, then I’ll have to say something to someone, but I hope it doesn’t come to that. If anything, this has made me even more willing to try and incorporate gaming into my future classroom. I feel that the hobby has so many valuable things to offer so many people that it would be doing my future students a disservice for me to not try.
As well, it makes me even more interested in making my gaming hobby more of a public thing. If you’ve not heard of the Play in Public Campaign, check out their website. I intend to keep a gaming book with me at all times and to read it in public whenever I am able.
I’ll leave you with this: if someone comes at you, spewing bile about the hobby of gaming, don’t give in to the urge to fire back. In my experience, that’s just what that kind of person wants. Have a self-confidence to know that you’re in the right when it comes to the issue and let them be the only who looks like a screaming idiot. And make sure that if you are going to bring up gaming or defend the hobby, do so in an appropriate context. If you just try and cram your support of gaming into everything you do, you’ll end up coming off as no better than the man who prompted me to write this in the first place.
[tags]rpg, rpgs, role playing games, incidents, Play in Public[/tags]