Monday, April 14, 2008

The Slouchers.

What do you do when your students don't want to be in college? I'm not talking about students who are less than interested in your class, but students who simply enroll in college to appease parents or "society."

I'm at a below average regional state university that feels to me like a prison rather than anything else. I ask my students every semester what they're doing in college, what their dreams are, what they're majoring in. The answers invariably are:

  • I don't know. I just want to get my degree and then get a job.

  • My mom told me I had to go for 2 years and then I can quit. I want to race cars.

  • I'm undeclared. That way I don't have to take any classes above 200.

  • Once my dad's money runs out I can quit.

And of course that attitude makes the classroom a dismal place, a place where even the strongest superkeener would give up.

I spent last week conferencing with my students in preparation for their final projects and final exam. Each 15 minute period felt like an hour. Nobody had questions beyond: "Do I have to write this down?" and "Do I have to take the final?" Everyone slumped. Everyone scowled. Everyone looked at their phones or watches or at the clock on the wall, and just waited for the misery to end.

I have to tell you, I used to love teaching. I've only been at this college for 7 years, but I almost feel that it's not worth continuing. I've started to wonder if college really is a "thing" that we should be doing. Students come but don't have a reason. I can't raise a smile or a chuckle from anyone. I can't find one student who just gets a kick out of being here. They slouch and stumble and hang their heads, and I fear that I'll soon be just like them.