Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Do We Lose Our Perspective When We Cross Over To The Other Side Of The Fence?

My eloquence doesn't even reach the 50% mark of Dr. Non-Diabolical's Faulkneresque sermon, so as an assistant prof in science I'll just have to vent in a straight forward fashion. I am certain that many have been meaning to address this issue, but nobody could have done better. Thanks, Dr. Non-Diabolical!

When I was a graduate student, I remember my close-to-retirement Ph.D. adviser ranting: "Those undergraduate students are becoming worse every year!" And I thought to myself: "Yeah, old man? It's just because you are becoming less flexible and increasingly stodgy."

I am in my second year at Small Liberal Arts College X and I now know what he meant. Or do I? I do identify with students; we listen to similar music, have similar hobbies, and I still enjoy a good "vodka-guzzle," just as I did as an undergrad. Yet, when I was an undergrad I blamed myself if I wasn't prepared for a test, and I did not dare to walk in to my professor's office while he was on the phone, then put on a mediocre act trying to probe for extra credit. And I know that when I was an undergraduate none of my classmates tried to run a comparable pathetic drama.

Did I age this fast or does the perspective change on the other side of the fence? Most of the time I don't even receive a "thank you for your time" or "sorry to disturb you while you are gulping down your lunch in the only 10 minute break that you have between lecture and lab."

The sad thing is that it's the majority of the students that suffer from caring about anyone but themselves - and I apologize to the few individuals who don't fit this category. So, why can't parents and high school teachers at least teach common courtesy, if they already fail to demand a knowledge in basic algebra?

Who is gonna fix the situation? Who is going to straighten out the spine, the basic civility in those students? Getting a Ph.D. doesn't provide you with the know-how to deal with societal adjustments of an entire generation. We all know that if you heroically take one for the team when you give a chastising lecture in the beginning of your course, and then assert frequent reminders to the large number of black sheep who act like you are their personal servant, they will let you feel their revenge in the student evaluations. Great! That's just what a low-life pre-tenured faculty member needs.

So if I would like to participate in the battle against an entire generation turning into lazy narcissists, I have to put my career on the line? I better get rid of my conscience. Or, how about replacing student evaluations with evaluations given by a small committee of faculty members, who visit your class every now and then? Probably too revolutionary.

Oh faculty of the world unite! Let's fight this narcissistic breed! We could come up with some type of solution, right?