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Hello Jim et al,

So that readers will know the context of my note in relation to this
complicated subject thread:

Jim mentioned that he lets his students know from the outset what he
expects in terms of behaviors in his classroom.  Then, he explains that he
is not a tyrant and will do whatever is necessary to help the students
understand the material.

I agree with your methodologies, and am especially in concurrence with
your willingness to do whatever is necessary.  The "If I can reach 'em, I
can teach 'em" approach is one that I also subscribe to.  Good for you,
and good for your students!

It appears to me that this issue expands WAY beyond the college classroom
environment, though.  A tangent of this issue that I am particulaly interested
in is the behaviors and response patterns that students have established
BEFORE they entered our colleges.  Yes, we can do things IN our classrooms
to mitigate anti-learning behaviors, momentarily.  But does that speak to
the bigger question here?

I think there IS a bigger question.  It seems that traditionally-aged
college students today are less respectful of the process of learning for
its own sake. That lack of respect for the nucleus of our higher ed.
mission is demonstrated by behaviors that get in the way of learning; in
specific, higher order learning.  The question: Are today's
college students less respectful of the value of learning than previous
generations?

If the answer to this question is "yes", then it is no wonder that
learning at the college level is unacceptable or even repugnant to them.
I would think that a person who did not like to learn new things would be
quite resentful of the people and institutions that are telling him or her
that they must engage in learning in order to succeed in our society.

Indeed, if people do not like or want to learn new things, and they FEEL
compelled to at least attend a learning environment because they have
been told that it is essential in order for them to get a high-paying job,
the most undisciplined among them will probably exhibit behaviors that are
not only anti-learning but simultaenously -- violent.

And THAT, is my area of interest in this issue.

Today, as in the late 60's and early 70's, most of America's college
students are quite immersed in their programs of study.  But not all are,
and that group seems to be growing.  My assumption is that we can spot at
least some of those disinterested college students by their behaviors;
behaviors that appear to be decidedly anti-learning.

Frankly, I am not concerned about the vast majority of college students at
this time.  However, I do believe that television programming, and the
SIGNIFICANT role television programming plays in the socialization of our
young Americans today, will continue to erode any national morals and values
that still remain.  A reliance upon, and acceptance of, Situational Ethics
and the direction of television programming, I believe, are the two cultural
phenomena that have led us to this point.

So, now we can couple an anti-learning attitude with social mores that
change according to the situation, and violence as an acceptable solution
to problems.  Viola! -- a half-baked hypothesis of why some college
students may turn to violence to make themselves feel better about their
dilemma!

There certainly is a master's thesis, or doctoral dissertation problem here.

Best to all,

Pat

P.S.  I know that some organization has been tracking the first generation
of "Crack (cocaine) Babies" as they progress through their school years.
Does anyone know if that group of students has reached college age yet?
If so, we all need to consider the (unintentional, negative) social
behaviors that are indigenous to that group of Americans and how those
behaviors will be manifest in our college classrooms.

Sorry about being so morose, but the potential for violence in our
colleges and universities is very real, I fear.  We should do something
about the cause of that potential violence BEFORE it erupts.