Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Parents just don't understand

Yesterday was the last day of classes for the semester, my last last day of a full semester for the next while, I suppose, since I am only teaching part time for the spring and summer and then will most likely not be teaching very much if at all in the fall. I could get into a long musing here on the conundrum of staying at home to raise children while at the same time maintaining my feminist and academic identity, but I have a feeling that will become a recurrent theme in this blog as time goes on, so I will spare you for now.

Instead, end of the semester thoughts abound, particularly after this semester in which I was not, to be quite frank, the best teacher I could be, what with the complication of pregnancy. And, therefore, my students were not the best they could have been, at least some of them, since this semester I find myself flunking a much larger percentage than usual. And this during a term when I was a much easier grader than usual (what with not being able to sit up and grade for long periods of time and therefore wanting to get it all done done done fast fast fast). The husband points out that students will rise or fall to the level of expectations accorded to them and while I believe this in theory, at least when it comes to rising, I have yet to see so much obvious falling until now.

Which, of course, leads me to the larger (and perhaps tired) issue of students today, who really are a new breed, even in comparison to students I was teaching just 10 years ago. My currents crop of students, by and large, are still relatively good workers, but a larger and larger percentage of them see success as a right, education as a chore, parties and cell phones and text messaging as essential, and responsibility as an outdated concept. The much-discussed helicopter parenting and the over-programming of these kids' lives has resulted in a crop of self-involved, monosyllabic, conformist, and materialistic young people. It used to be a hard sell to convince them that literature really was relevant to their lives. Now it's a hard sell to convince them that classes in general are relevant to their lives, even the much-loved business classes.

In short, many of them no longer care. And it's distressing, especially during this time of the semester, when grades are tabulated, and I can see how many of them simply threw up their hands and disappeared mentally the minute things became challenging or, worse, simply different. You know who is going to care? Their parents. But now it's too late.

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