The Entitled

June 5, 2009

Some of my colleagues were standing around grousing about something yesterday. I joined them and found them complaining about students.

“I can’t believe that these kids have only come to 50% of my counterpoint class! BW just texts during class and it drivesme crazy. When I was in college, I NEVER missed classes.” Another joined in: “I’m having the same problem with my graduate students. Some have missed 4 of 10 seminars.” “My students just don’t read. I assign reading for class and very few of them are prepared.” “I didn’t make my students buy any books so as to save them money during this bad economy. They STILL don’t read.”

I encouraged them to give them bad grades. We went on:

“Why, I remember going home from school every day with an arm-load of musical scores. I couldn’t wait to learn about some new piece of music. Kids today don’t seem to have much of that fire. They do, barely, what is required and not much else.” Another piped in: “I couldn’t believe how unsupportive of each other they are. They don’t attend each others’ recitals. Few of them attend performances of their teachers’ work.” “I rarely see them at new music concerts.”

Is it the fluoride in the water? Were they spoiled rotten by their pampering baby-boomer parents? Or has the autism spectrum widened to include total boredom that doesn’t somehow relate to Facebook, talking on the phone, texting, or partying?

I’m afraid it’s the Entitled Generation.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

charo June 8, 2009 at 5:03 am

I think there’s a lot more to it than that, for example, the fact that classical music culture is further away from the mainstream than it ever has been. This means people are either following up other musical interests or working hard at performance as this becomes increasingly important in getting a job once out of university.

Certainly in the UK, activities at university are as important as what grades one achieves – both in getting a job and in what society expects from the university experience. Many students end up doing what they can to get the grades they want/need while filling a lot of their additional time with extra-curricular work that will get them noticed in an ever-competitive job market (how many jobs in classical music are there these days?).

Also there are more places to study and more students – you no longer get the high concentration of people who are purely there to study, there is a greater diversity of type of person. This in my opinion is a good thing and it means that you can explore your shared interests in your own time, surely that is what studying is really all about?

dkirker June 9, 2009 at 1:45 am

I was talking to one of my computer science professors about this last week. He teaches the Professional Responsibilities class (a computer ethics class for computer science students, its existence, and the paralleling of another class from computer engineering students, is BS, but that is a different discussion) and assigns plenty of reading and a 30 page paper to the undergrad students. His complaint was that nobody does the reading.

Another student, and hopefully myself, are going to try to work with him to create a better course. Hopefully a course that will promote more reading. I want to try to work it out so that there is not a mound of work like their used to be (large midterm and final that took past the 2 hour class period, plenty of reading, quizzes, labs at least twice a week, and a 30 page term paper).

The way that students participate in school seems to be changing. I’m hoping to work with the changes and adopt them, rather than just suggest failing students for not reading. My professor seems to feel the same way, though he still wants the labs, midterm + final, reading, quizzes and 30 page paper, as well as higher pass rates. I’m convinced that he is going to have to drop one of those for things to work out.

He did drop the midterm and final this quarter (unfortunatly, I did manage to fail the class for the second time, but not after making significant progress on the paper), but complained that students were not reading.

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