I teach art at a secondary school and experience many of the same problems others write about on RYS. I have, for years, thought that maybe I was wrong to not pursue a career as a professor (a stint as a TA and the reality of adjunct pay was enough to scare me off to the public school system). I take comfort in the fact that the same bullshit I deal with now goes on in universities all over the country, and that professors are equally as embittered and disillusioned as I am.
I too have students who, although seem bright enough, forget the full meaning of the word “plagiarism.” I too have students who forget that it is not acceptable for them to listen to iPods, text message their friends, and sleep during class. The best part is that they actually think they’re being sly about it, and are shocked when I “catch” them. They forget that the LED lights on their electronic devices illuminate their sweet little faces when the lights are off and we are watching a video. They forget the hours that tutoring is available. They forget their assignment, and complain when points are deducted for late work.They forget that I am only 26, have excellent hearing, and know when they’re calling me a bitch under their breath. They forget that my job is to facilitate their learning, not to do the assignment for them. They forget that my class does in fact require work (what?! In ART?!?!). They forget that I am not their friend, not interested in “hooking up” after they graduate, not breathlessly awaiting the latest chapter in their life story. But, they NEVER forget when I make a mistake. Although I am expected to have the patience and forgiveness of Christ, I am not allowed to make mistakes. Ever.
The saddest thing about all of this, though, is that the parents are worse than the students. At my “State Recognized” school district, the administration trembles and wets themselves like a bad puppy every time an angry parent calls. How dare I subject precious Lu-Lu Bell to the same requirements as all the other students? She’s Special. She Deserves to be excused. She has Needs.
So, if you’re wondering why your college classes are full of lousy students who can’t think for themselves, manage time or money, take responsibility for anything, or have an original thought, you can thank dear old mom and dad. They’re the ones that told Junior he could be anything he wanted to be when he grew up, and made excuses for him when he failed. They're the ones that told him it was okay to skip homework and run football plays until midnight. They’re the ones footing the bill for him to join the fraternity and drink away his allowance (and liver). They’re the ones who will allow him to move back in when he’s put on academic probation and goes back to community college for a half semester before deciding that college is overrated.