The unfortunate brief description of this column in the Chronicle of Higher Education was
A music professor who prides himself on his cultural sensitivity suddenly finds it wanting in the classroom of an urban university.
As you can see, while the author talks about his cultural sensitivity and the challenges of teaching in a multicultural classroom, the hook for the story doesn’t seem to have much to do with culture. Essentially, the story revolves around two students who simply did not feel it necessary to respect the class or anyone in it, and then left after midterms. Given that he doesn’t mention problems with the other students or any specifics about the troublesome pair — something that may have fallen out in the editing — I’m not sure why this would be a cultural issue so much as the kind of discipline issue teachers run into all the time.
He recognizes that problem, when he talks about the need to set clear expectations like he did while teaching elementary school, but in that case I don’t know why this column was framed as a difference between the elite schools at which he taught before and the Queens, NY, university at which he teaches now. Was the point that poor kids don’t know how to behave? (I’d be ticked off if that was the point of the story.) I don’t understand, particularly when the story doesn’t mention the socioeconomic status of the two students.