Midnight Can Be A Perfect Time Of Day For A Class

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Las Vegas never sleeps. At midnight, you can gamble, see a show, have a 70-course buffet, or take a biology class. This past term, the two-year College of Southern Nevada joined some other schools around the country in offering midnight classes. Host Scott Simon talks with biology professor and midnight class instructor Mary Bennett, who explains how the time suits lots of students and fits her ebullient personality.


Las Vegas never sleeps. At midnight you can gamble, you can see a show, you can have a 70-course buffet, or you can take a biology class. This past term, the two-year College of Southern Nevada joined some other schools around the country in offering midnight classes. Mary Bennett taught Biology 189 in the wee hours. She joins us now from member station KNPR in Las Vegas.

Professor Bennett, thanks for being with us.

Professor MARY BENNETT (College of Southern Nevada): It's a pleasure.

SIMON: Your class went on until 1:20 in the morning, I'm told?

Prof. BENNETT: The lecture went till 1:20 and the lab went to 2:00.

SIMON: I mean, usually you pull an all-nighter studying, not going to class.

Prof. BENNETT: My class was very good, though. I had really a great group of students. They were very attentive. They did quite well for that time of day -or night.

SIMON: Why the need for midnight classes?

Prof. BENNETT: For the most part, the students that this type of classroom time slot works best for are some of our nontraditional students, where both parents are working and they can't afford child care. So we have the one parent working during the day while the one is watching the child, the other one working the early evening shift, the other one watches. And then this time slot works really well for them.

It also works well for a lot of our casino employees who work a second shift situation and want to continue their education and do something else later on.

SIMON: Do you have to have any kind of special educational approach at midnight and 1:00 in the morning?

Prof. BENNETT: Well, for myself, I didn't have to do anything different. I'm a very interactive teacher. So I think that's an important concept when looking for somebody to teach a midnight class per se. So I actively engage the class. I'm constantly asking them questions, talking to them, to keep them attentive.

SIMON: Do students sometimes get a little droopy-eyed, with all due regard to your teaching technique?

Prof. BENNETT: I didn't see it so much. I mean, this was the first time I taught a class this late. They were pretty good. I've actually seen students being more droopy-eyed in an 8:00 o'clock in the morning class.

SIMON: How many students in your class, Professor?

Prof. BENNETT: Well, this first time we offered it we only had like a one section offering. So there was 24 students. In the fall it will be a full course offering with, I believe, 44 to 48 students.

SIMON: But it's very nice that in a community that has this nonstop schedule, as Las Vegas does, to be able to provide people an opportunity to extend their education that conforms to their requirements.

Prof. BENNETT: It really is. I mean, I think it's a great benefit for an area like this to offer that availability for a student to go to the next level. And that was a great experience. The lab students were really a lot of fun. And we stayed, you know, till the bitter end 2:00 in the morning every time.

SIMON: Thanks very much for speaking with us, biology Professor Mary Bennett.

Prof. BENNETT: Thank you.

SIMON: This is NPR News.

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