Seattle college flirting class sparks interest

How much does a polar bear weigh? Enough to break the ice. This line is definitely cheesy but now it falls into another much more impressive category: potential thesis. That is, now that the University of Washington is offering Flirting 101 as a course.

The class is taught as an elective through the experimental college at the university. Much of the course content focuses around common elements of flirting: talking to new people, phone and voicemail etiquette, body language and ways to keep anxiety levels down.

“Flirting is not just meeting people and setting up dates,” Kate Stewart, the instructor of the course, told her students. “A lot of it is about how you connect with other people. I have always loved dating and loved flirting. I’ve always thought it really was a lost art.”

Stewart claims the class teaches confidence and communication skills not easily found in other interpersonal communication. She also states that it gives people a head start in the difficult-to-date city of Seattle.

While the class has so far been successful at the school, with a class roster of 20 students, UNA professors are skeptical about its legitimacy.

“Anything potentially can build confidence,” said Dr. Bill Huddleston, a communications professor at UNA. “The link between flirting and confidence is stretching it. A person successfully walking across the street can build their confidence.”

Even without a definitive link, however, students still show curiosity in the course.

“I probably need to take the class,” said Scott Dyar, UNA student. “I think I would most likely take it out of pure and simple curiosity.”

Huddleston however says he would only be behind the class if he could see clear reasoning and obvious support behind the class and how it could benefit the students and communication skills.

“I guess I can see that point of view. But, there are definitely some people who, I think, could definitely benefit from what I hope would be confidence-building techniques,” said Dyar.

Others however see the class less as a learning experience and more of a filler course.

“If I needed an elective, sure [I would take it],” said Lindley Bassham, UNA student.

While the class seems fairly harmless to most, some clear drawbacks are present to some.

“If you’re good at flirting, you can find someone and be happy,” said Huddleston. “If you’re bad at flirting you can still find someone and be happy. If this course is seen as artificial communication with no meaning behind it, then that can be hazardous.”

The course is currently only offered at the University of Washington, and its success has made Stewart consider introducing a course specifically on online dating as well as teaching the course again in the spring.