Sunday, March 4, 2007

my students - generation me

This week during one of the many hours that I spend in the car - I heard an interview on NPR's "Day to Day" with Dr. Jean Twenge the author of Generation Me and lead researcher of a study released this week that PROVES that college students these days are more self-centered and narcissistic than ever. As I was listening to the interview all I could keep thinking was - "Yes! That's it! These are my students she is talking about!"

Have I told you about the student who has been to two out of 9 classes and every time she emails me the subject of her email is "Hey"? Then she proceeds to write me an email full of ridiculous excuses as to why she has not been to class - an email with no greeting, or closing. Here is an example pasted here exactly as it was sent (no editing):
Hey I missed class today b/c I had to meet with the counselor at 2:00 and it took longer then expected. Let me know if you received both responses sorry for all he confusion with the emails. PLease let me know what I missed in class.....
I repeatedly get students handing things in late with any excuse tagged along with it. "I didn't get the email until today" "I was out of town and just got back" "I had the flu that is going around"

I finally had to send an email to all my students restating my course policies - no late papers, only 2 unexcused absences, excused absences need to be accompanied by a note from doc or other authority...

and my newest course policy (something I have been wanting to do for years but finally got up the nerve to do it) -- NO LAPTOPS in class.
Thanks to beauty of wireless internet - students sit in my classroom instant messaging each other, shopping for music, and sending emails! Not anymore. I explained that if you want to digitize your notes - you will need to type them up at home.

The attitude with the majority of my students is that they already seem to know everything that they need to know and if I am lucky they might listen or learn something that I am teaching them but only if I put on a good enough performance to prove that this material is worth knowing. Nobody comes to college to actually learn, and no matter how hard they work they always deserve an 'A' - even if they didn't do anything!

Anyhow, it is very difficult for me to relate to students to seem to have no capacity to think outside of themselves. Beyond grades, partying, and sex, there is no room in their world view for history or social concerns.

We still have more than half of the semester to go so I hope that they prove me wrong, though I am not optimistic.


The_Myth said...

Wow. I am in Pennsylvania, and this is EXACTLY the attitude my students have here as well.

I had a kid in an Intro to Sociology class last Fall who sat and surfed the web every single class. He handed in no papers and did poorly on the exams.

This past Spring I taught in a computer lab. The students who were always surfing the web had the most hateful comments on the course evaluations because they didn't like the fact that I actually expected them to do their work.

It's kinda nice [and very sad] that things are the same all over the country.

Anonymous said...

" ...but only if I put on a good enough performance..."

The following advice applies to most of the professors I've encountered.

Plan and deliver a lecture that's worth attending. In other words, a lecture that goes beyond the required textbook. You didn't author those powerpoint slides. So, in the future, remember to erase the copyright from the bottom of each slide before making such a claim. And most importantly, don't read verbatim. I can read the slides at home and learn the material without your assistance. This is college, not elementary school. You're wasting my money and time. The textbook and recommended readings contain more information and insight than your cliff-noted lectures.

eloise said...

Dear Anonymous,
I appreciate your comment, but I'm perplexed at how many assumptions you make about me in your reply.

I always create my own powerpoints (if I use them at all), and don't read my notes verbatim - in actuality I work really hard to plan my classes using different teaching modalities - to make them fun and original. I just need the other half of the equation to play their part. Most students don't read the textbook at home which sometimes does require us to do a little bit of repetition in the classroom.

You might have better luck complaining to your classmates.

best of luck,

Anonymous said...

This does sound familiar. As a 25 year old undergraduate student, this is a mirror of my academic environment. And I despise it. It is shameful these students don't appreciate or even realize the opportunities their daily life presents. I stumbled upon your blog in attempt to find a window into the life of a doctoral student - something I am considering as well. Keep up the good work and don't let those kids get to you.