Sunday, April 23, 2006

Someone Is Worried About the Future of America

I try very hard to accept the modern student. I've been teaching for almost 30 years now, and still remember the halcyon days when students actually dressed for class, when they arrived on time, and took part in class actively. These notions are apparently completely outside the bounds of what the modern student thinks to be civil or possible, so we get what we get.

And I've modified my teaching in all the ways I've been told I must. I offer entertaining classes. I challenge them less. I hand out grades like they were Halloween candy; students get them for just ringing the bell.

But last week's 3 pm Business Communications class about did me in.

  • B walked in carrying a Sports Illustrated and a muffin, but no paper, pen, or textbook.
  • C took her shoes off as soon as she got into the room and put her bare feet up on a neighboring desk.
  • D, and this was not unusual, arrived in "pajama" bottoms with Spongebob Squarepants all over them.
  • In the middle of class, E wondered if we might go outside and sit on the grass because it would help her "concentrate better."
  • F said, apropos of nothing going on in class, "Man, those Chinese are really getting powerful."
  • G laughed out loud once during my lecture, and when I peered over to see what had happened, saw a wide open newspaper on his desk.

I'm not saying that this is typical, or that the modern student has doomed us all, but is there anyone out there being successful in getting students to take class seriously? It seems that the only time I can get my students' attention is when I holler "midterm exam" or "final exam." And even then it takes a bad grade to get them motivated and willing at least to argue about that.

Some of these students are seniors, presumably on the cusp of entering the world, being in charge, taking over, leading whatever will be the future of the country. Am I the only one worried?