Friday, June 23, 2006

Why students suck

The Chronicle of Higher Education has some wonderful "first person" accounts from the academic world, and I really liked this one. He describes how students consider the professor essentially as a waiter and tuition as the tip:


Today, nearly all my students work -- many of them full-time -- and class attendance and homework are things they squeeze in as long as it doesn't interfere with the rest of their lives. I have received complaints that a mere 10 pages of reading for the next class were too many because the students were so busy. They expect you to provide make-up lectures, exercises, and tests at their convenience. Most drive nice cars, wear the latest fashions, and have both a cell phone and an iPod yet tell me they can't afford a $25 textbook.


I'm amazed how students behave even when they don't mean to be disrespectful. Students who can barely add or put together a coherent sentence pulling out Soduku or crossword puzzles in the middle of a lecture.

16 comments:

Paul Houle said...

Students are boring people. You should feel pity for them.

My wife and I (both Americans) spent a year in Europe. The thing we dreaded the most was sitting around youth hostels and hearing American students talk about themselves.

I went to this school...
I'm entering this program...
I took this class...

None of them had actually ~done~ anything, and none had plans to ~do~ anything but take more classes.

Students spend 12, 16 or more years in a system that teaches you to be an irresponsible, narcissistic, self-centered twit. After all, the same thing is going to happen if you show up or don't show up... It sends the message that you don't matter. Responsible people believe the opposite: that they're an essential part of a system.

You're lucky -- if you don't like the way they behave in class, just wait till you have to deal with them in the workforce

Angry said...

Well, I'm not sure how the system teaches them irresponsibility, but I do lament that students don't seem interested in anything. Everyone seems to go to college either for business, thinking that will lead to money/job, or for some major they think will be easy.

As for the workforce comment, funny. Yeah, I'm probably pretty lucky in that way, but I bump into the same kind of stuff with some of the researchers I supervise.

giant_bug said...

I'm wondering what institute of higher ed has $25 textbooks.

Angry said...

It's written by a guy in communications...maybe they've got cheaper books than the sciences.

Aaron Denney said...

I happen to be one of those that does pulll out sudoku or crossword puzzles in class. If I don't, I fall asleep. I need to keep my hands busy. Yes, note taking helps, but in most of my classes, that only uses about 50% of my time, and leaves enough time to let my eyes gradually slip down...

Anonymous said...

The more I read his article, the more I felt it was about our school. He works for a state university in the South and so am I. The author may be one of my colleagues. Esp. the story about the "nail"--- that's precisely the kind of comment my students would utter. Just yesterday, I had a student with GPA 2.6 asking me to write a letter of recommendation to Harvard. Mind you. Our school is almost like an open admission school and GPA 2.6 here is not like GPA 2.6 at PENN, Brown, or other decent public schools.

The problem is that "academically below average students with behavioral problems" should not go to college. Period. They are doing disservice to themselves. They attend lectures that are far beyond their comprehension or maybe 5 grade level higher than their ability. And we are expected to baby-sit those who shouldn't be in college. College is not for everybody. The sooner students realize the better. Just give tons of Fs to those lazy bunch so they'll be on academic probation. That will help them in the long run.

Anonymous said...

Just found this blog while typing in "My Students Suck" into google...I guess you could say I had a bad day concerning my college students. I Love this entry, and love the comments :) I can't agree more with Anonymous about the fact that not everyone should go to college...society is dictating now that everyone move onto this level, and it's simply not right.

Anonymous said...

teacher the career for failures at life

Anonymous said...

You should live in Missouri where student teacher evaluations must be posted on a public web site. I just wonder how our legislators could ever think this move will improve education. Students view their education as a business proposition. I constantly contend with students who want to negotiate for a grade. Ask yourself what might happen in this atmosphere. Students are the problem.

Anonymous said...

My college students are really, really, really horrible. Although, I have to say, Paul Houle sounds worse!

So let me get this straight, he and his wife went to Europe for a year, sat around youth hostels, and judged people because they hadn't ~done~ anything?

Seriously? I mean... what did he expect?

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Anonymous said...

This article is entirely correct. Students feel entitled. I am a Ph.D. candidate in a social science so I am still young, and I was a lazy student in undergrad (still did well enough to get into graduate school), but I was not rude or demanding. However, I went to a small liberal arts university. Maybe the size of the school has something to do with this attitude. I will not know until I have experience as a professor at a small university (if you want to give me a job).

Professor Obvious said...

Students suck, and teachers are employees first and teachers second, third or sometimes not at all. While many underperforming students blame their dismal grades and sad lot on a legacy of poor teaching, teachers respond (at least here) by claiming that students are “the problem.” However, there is more going on here than simple polemics, and it is precisely within the middle-ground where education must be focused, and where the definition of “higher-education” must be redefined for both students and teachers.

This redefinition is warranted because students have outgrown the curriculum and teachers are becoming useless as educators—as Mr. Houle unintentionally illustrates when he points out “after all the same thing is going to happen (to the student) if (they) show up, or don’t show up.” If a student can learn the material outside the classroom and score well on your exam, you are little more than an aging schoolmarm, while the student by contrast is proactively minding to their education amidst the higher education supercolossus— a system which treats students like the insignificant portion of the unending line of credit they represent to university coffers.

But, let’s face it, teaching is a paycheck; and what can you do anyway when universities and colleges do not consider the quantum entanglement experiments you have been performing without approval to be appropriate for undergraduate curriculum?
Answer: knock the Sudoku and crosswords out of your students hands with your experience, knowledge, and passion before using a yardstick to adjust their appreciation for your lecture and the material; but remember, teach the ones that “suck” about mass, acceleration and velocity because they are in need of help most of all.

Anonymous said...

You know what?

This is not all the students fault. I am a sophomore chemistry major at a large Southern university and I am struggling with physics. I have failed every quiz set in font of me and it is not my fault. I try so hard in that class only to be rewarded with failure.

Perhaps it's the teachers that hate their jobs and let their hatred for their students show that are to blame. Excuse me if you couldn't get your job in NASA, Einstein, it's not our fault. Professors attitudes inspire students attitudes. So if you are rude, or act like we ask stupid questions then we are going to be rude, we're going to pull out puzzles in the middle of your lecture.

OH! And for the complete ass who says that kids who might not have 3.8 GPA's and a perfect record shouldn't go to college, you're are a total, pompous ass. You're one of those professors that think they are better than the kids they are teaching. Guess what, you were one of us once too. Not everyone can be a college student.
And for Paul Houle, you're an ass too. College kids are brainwashed into believing that our entire lives hinge on college. If you don't get a degree, you will never get a job, never make enough to support a family, or yourself! So yeah, at this age college and classes is the only thing we've 'done' and it is the only thing that we are interested in doing. How about to you take yourself down a notch and remember what it was like to be a Undergrad.

-The Angry Student

Anonymous said...

Some of you teacher's make no effort to make your class interesting and usually teach in an out-dated way which is truly boring.

You say we are irresponsible, yet what are you doing to help this situation? Blame the young!

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