Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Could You Try a Little?

A tenure-track professor who has taught in California and Arizona writes:

I've been teaching about a dozen years and the thing that disturbs me the most about my current students is that they don't even fake like they're trying. And this has been coming on more and more over the past few years. In my early days in the classroom, at least I could count on about half of the class actually willing to try to be interested in the material. It felt good to teach back then, because at the end of class some people would mill around, still discussing what we'd covered.

But more and more every student I see seems to act like it's the worst chore in the world to actually come to class, actually bring the book, actually stay upright.

My student evaluations are always positive, and I get through to a few students every semester, but the vast majority of people conduct themselves as if they'd rather be anywhere but a classroom. And I don't get it. It's made my own job into a chore, as I now dread going in there and looking at people who seem just dead inside.

But then out on the quad or in the commons, I see the same people animated, chatting, laughing, dancing. They're young, seem happy, and seem to be full of vigor. But next day in class they hang their heads, they mumble - if they talk at all, and they look as though I've just told them I put pigeon shit in their porridge.

I want to know why today's student doesn't even want to try.