Thursday, February 12, 2009

"Ignorance IS Easier." We Always Knew It.

I teach the U.S. history survey, and my students are reading Howard Zinn as one of their texts. They were asked the following question as part of their homework on a Zinn reading:

"Why were workers attracted to socialism? Why did businessmen find it threatening? What did it threaten?"

I got this response: "I really do not understand what socialism entirely. The word seems to be thrown around in literature and politics that I really cannot grasp what it's supposed to mean. So to save myself the agony of doing hours of reading, I'm not going to answer this question. Sorry."

Part of me applauds the student's refreshing honesty while the rest of his classmates simply pretend to give a shit while handing in BS answers. But the rest of me dies a little more inside as I struggle to stay excited about teaching students like this.

First, his assertion that the answer would take hours of reading is crap -- the answer was easily found in the chapter they were supposed to have read, and his classmates answered it fairly easily.

But what if I had asked a question that required outside knowledge? Oh, the agony of "hours of reading!" Heaven forbid I ask such a thing!

OMG, I might have to READ stuff...that's HARD...and takes up the time I could be using to play Guitar Hero or mess around on Facebook!!!! :(

The thing that most gets me is that the student identifies socialism as something he's heard a lot about and doesn't understand completely, but probably should. But instead of finding out just what it is and why people are talking about it, he's decided that ignorance is easier. Ah, yes -- a big lesson of college.

Ignorance IS easier, my friend, so drink it in. And I'm sure your future boss will appreciate your desire to only do the easy tasks because the rest of your job is too hard. See how that goes, 'kay? In the meantime, I'm not going to put myself through the hours of agony reading your papers and assignments. I'll just give them an F. "Sorry."