Mr. Hansen’s Three Rules

In 2005, after 22 years of teaching (7 at STA, plus part-time teaching and training in various roles since 1983), I finally managed to boil my rules down to the following:

1. Don’t talk while I’m talking.
2. Don’t talk while another student has the floor.
3. (“AIR” rule): Act Interested and Respectful at all times.

The penalties are simple: 1 point for violating rule #1, 2 points for violating rule #2, and 3 points for violating rule #3.

The AIR rule is the hardest to follow. Therefore, I may give a warning or two before actually charging you with a violation. I make no guarantee, since life is not that predictable. Examples of AIR violations are yawning, “tsk tsking,” telling someone to shut up, mocking someone, using sarcasm directed at another student, name-calling, bullying, eye-rolling, littering, damaging school property, shoving or horseplay indoors, etc. I am sure you can think of many others. Sarcasm directed at me, if it is good-natured, is usually something I can tolerate. Luckily, I do not ask you to be interested and respectful at all times (for that is beyond my power); you are merely required to act interested and respectful at all times.

An extreme violation of the AIR rule, e.g., slandering another student, using hurtful ethnic epithets, or failing to respect another student’s property, may land you in front of the Discipline Council or the Honor Council.

Rationale for the AIR rule: Most of you will be entering the business world after college, and how well you do depends primarily on your reputation. Your reputation depends primarily on people’s anecdotal impressions of your character. Since most people do not have the time, the skill, or the interest to evaluate your technical qualifications carefully, they will judge you by what they think of your character, and those judgments may be biased and illogical. If you doubt me, try yawning a couple of times at a business meeting and see how far your career goes.

All organizations have dress codes, either written or unwritten, and one of the easiest ways to show disrespect—thereby flushing away your career—is to ignore a dress code. If you are a litigator, wearing a sloppy pair of plaid trousers and a torn jacket to court a few times should do the trick. If you work for a high-tech company where the dress code is business casual, overdressing would be equally erroneous.

Yes, technically, I have some other rules, but they are mostly variations on the AIR rule. For example, I generally charge 1 point per dress code infraction, whether during class or not, and 1 point per minute (or fraction of a minute) for unexcused tardiness or absence from class. Since dress code is an AIR issue, I suppose I should charge 3 points, but mercy dictates moderation here, since otherwise an unshaven student with a loose tie, no jacket, and an untucked shirt would be down 12 points. I have a whole set of absence and tardiness policies that you should read, but they can be summarized in three sentences: (1) Have your parents call the school by 8:00 a.m. at (202) 537-6412 if you are absent or late. (2) Notify Mr. Hansen by e-mail of any planned absences. (3) Bring a note whenever you have a legitimate reason for being late to class.

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Last updated: 21 Mar 2010