Over the past few weeks, I’ve offered my SUNY Purchase journalism students a pretty cool Who’s Who from the world of sports and media. Because the class is 3 1/2 hours, I try and keep things interesting. Generally, I break it up: First half—guest speaker. Second half—interactive lecture/activities.
A month ago, via Skype, former Dodger Shawn Green spoke to the class.
A weeks later, Armen Keteyian from 60 Minutes Sports came to campus.
A week after that, ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap.
Earlier today, ESPN’s Jemele Hill, also via Skype.
Syracuse, Northwestern, Missouri, North Carolina—I defy you to find me a sports journalism class that brings in—back to back to back to back—this caliber of guests. It’s cool and unique and fun and fascinating, and were the year 1993, and were I a student in such a class, I’d be asking one question after another; requesting internship information and beginning to know how one makes it big.
Alas, I am 41; 20 years removed from school; a teacher, not a student. And I’m a bit, well, frustrated. Don’t get me wrong—I love my students. They’re bright and fun and sharp. Some are fantastic writers, others are very good. I can’t say enough good things about the group as a whole. And yet, I bring these guests in, and … they … rarely … ask … questions.
I’m at a loss.
Jemele spoke for 45 minutes today. She was informative and open and—as always—cool. Number of questions asked by students: One.
Jeremy—equally great. And in person. Questions asked: Maybe five.
Armen literally told the students that he’d give me his e-mail address, and if they were interested in internships they should contact him. Number of students who asked about this amazing opportunity: Two.
Again, I love these kids, and want them to do dazzling things with their lives. But the potential journalist who doesn’t formulate questions might not be a potential journalist.