Last time I waxed less than poetically about the lack of critical thinking encouraged and enjoyed by my students. I should have added to that thought that there are some teachers who lack critical thinking skills. I actually know another teacher who thinks she encourages her student to think for themselves and analyze things by giving them spelling tests. In college. For credit. No need to dignify that with any commentary. Moving on . . .
Issue 2: Stupidity facilitated by technology is the new black.
A student in one of my classes told me early in the semester that he saw no point in studying history or government because who cared about that stuff. This is the same student who, after watching the movie Pan’s Labyrinth, informed me that fascism wouldn’t have worked on him because he just would have told them no.
Cause you know how those fascists love personal opinion and expression.
I actually tried explain to him that while that’s all well and good to say, it has no bearing on the reality of fascist regime. I tried to use the most basic of examples to prove my point–WWII Germany–but he was too interested in telling me how he would have done things differently. He had no knowledge or respect for the significance of the past and therefore is one of the growing masses going around sharing an opinion based on nothing. (This is not, by the way, a younger student. He’s actually four years older than I am.)
The general consensus of my students that with the internet, there is no need to learn fundamental things like history, government, or culture. We have more technology and access to resources than anyone could have dreamed of and we are a world that uses it like a crutch to avoid actually knowing anything.
The question used to be, “When are we going to need this?” Now it has changed to, “Why bother when I can look it up on Wikipedia?”
Nevermind that Wikipedia is not reliable and has no academic or scholarly moderator.
And what’s more is that people consider it ‘lame’ or ‘stupid’ to have any fundamental knowledge. That isn’t a new development; where do you think the Geek stereotype comes from? But the point is, students now more than ever fight any sort of learning because they think they are too cool for it. To which I want to reply one of two things:
a. Then why are you in college?
b. And what career exactly are you planning on where you can sit around and be cool and know absolutely nothing?
My athletes are usually more than happy to tell me that when they go pro, they won’t need all this. I try not to point out the statistical probabilities of every community college athlete going pro (see–a good place to use math!). I ask them what’s going to happen when they get hurt or can’t play anymore because they are too old. Coaching is always the answer. So hopefully there will be a sports team boom so all my athletes can have careers. Of course, most of them don’t bother to watch the sport they play or have any idea of its history. But apparently, in their minds, it doesn’t matter. Cause they’re cool.