Wednesday, November 11, 2009

shouldn't it be worth fighting for?

I think I've figured out some of my distress with some of my students. It is that they get defeated very easily, like they've given up.

I hand back homeworks and instead of students paying attention to my discussion of what folks did wrong, they flip through their dayplanners or talk with their neighbors. And they toss the graded homework in the trash on their way out. And when I hand back the next one, on which they have made all the same mistakes, they say something like, "I just don't understand this" or "I just didn't work very hard on this" or something.

Dammit. Shouldn't your college education be worth more of a fight than that?

I remember when I was in college - in particular, chemistry - and I didn't understand something, I would find the TA or the prof on his office hours, and go in with a list, and say, "I don't understand thus-and-so as well as I'd like to. Could you explain it to me again?" And they would, and most of the time I'd understand it better. But my office hours, they are lonely. No one shows up to ask questions, even though I have people who get all bent out of shape over low grades or not understanding.

If you care about something, you have to fight for it. You have to be willing to put in a little effort. I get the feeling a lot of these folks either don't care, or have swallowed the victimology pill, where they believe if they don't get PRECISELY what they wanted without effort, it's because someone did them wrong along the way.

I have people who "play the victim" in my classes - they skip class, and then act all offended because, apparently, I did not show up on their doorstep to give them the announcements they missed. Or they do poorly and come at the end of the semester blaming me that they "didn't know" something, when they were absent on the day it was discussed.

And it makes me tired. I am just one person. I cannot do all the work for each of the 100+ of them. I cannot keep track of who was and was not paying attention at a given time. I am doing my best but they have to meet me at least halfway.

This is the millennial generation, folks. Ain't none of us Xers ever going to be able to retire, because there will be no one willing to take the reins from us. Or if there is, they will be calling us every 5 minutes to ask us "how do you turn the copier on again?"

I've said before I wasn't in favor of conscripted military or civil service, but I'm beginning to wonder - as 18 year olds continue to seem more helpless and "younger" with each semester, if there isn't going to come a point where we as a society have to do something to, figuratively speaking, force their testicles to descend before unleashing them on the world of the rest of the adults. Because as an adult older than these "kids," I am growing heartily tired of the whining, of the shutting-down, of the refusal to take responsibility for even rather small aspects of their education. As I said: I cannot do it all.

I have come within a hair's breadth of going all snarky and saying, "Oh, and do you want me to wipe your butt for you, too?" this semester. Twice, actually. That's not good.


Kate P said...

YES. And I am totally against spoonfeeding in school. I so want my students to be ready for college, Ricki--maybe even for your classroom one day. I just don't know if they'll make it.

nightfly said...

I'm totally linking this. You rock.