Wednesday, March 5, 2008

On a Somber Note

My students give me unlimited writing material.

And this is troubling.

Their lives are chaotic. They're under-prepared. Many can't write a proper sentence. They are utterly without organizational skills.

They really want to do better, and just don't know how.

The worst? Many, if not most, exhibit little curiosity about the world around them. They are tapped into the culture through celebrities, television and games, but don't grapple with big issues--environment, politics, poverty, dynamics of gender and race.

We've had several frank discussions about their disinterest in the great big troubling fabulous complicated world.

They admit that they're uninformed and uninvolved. Why? Because they're busy earning money.

My students are all white-knuckle and strain, trying to get into that middle-class. An education is one way in. But college costs money. So they have 2 jobs. Or 3. This gets in the way of homework.

Toss in Life with all its complications, lack of fundamental writing skills, and a dim understanding of the concept "time management" and you have all those D's, F's and withdrawals in my grade book.

Oh, and don't forget the venerable Game and vast Internet. Video games are relaxing. It's how they unwind. YouTube is sorta like oxygen and blood. Some of us bloggers have a little bit of this bug, too.

In "Citizenship In Emergency" -- a very fine essay about 9-11-- Elaine Scarry argues that our nation has an urgent need for a more informed citizenry. She urges each of us to attend to our responsibilities as citizens, to be actively engaged with the government that structures so much of our lives.

Far from this, my students remain on their financial treadmills, nose to the minutiae of their own existence. When they get off for a few minutes, they unwind. Click! Online or with game.

Totally understandable. And alarming.

5 comments:

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

What is really sad is that the time to learn a lot of these skills is before you need to be a wage-earning adult - i.e., in childhood. But it's not happening. The Washington Post had an article the other day about how even a top university such as UVA has students with no writing skills.

Domestically Challenged said...

Matron
For services to students...

I award you my new Lovely Blogger Award

how do I send it?

Minnesota Matron said...

Well, thank you, domesticallychallenged! You can download and attach and send it to me at mpetrie33 at gmail or you can steer me in the Lovely Blogger Award's direction and I'll download myself. I just swept by your blog but didn't see it. I could look again but I currently resemble Linda Blair in The Exorcist. My head is spinning because I'm so busy!!!

Angie said...

Ugh. This is somber. This is how I feel every time I have a discussion with a high school student - but thought college would be different. There are a few out there that are aware and who care, but they are becoming fewer and further in between. Lucky for us, there are people like you trying to make a difference in their lives - no matter how difficult.

thanks!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Sad indeed. Keep fighting the good fight. Congrats on the award--you totally deserve it. I was just over at her place and saw it--you're in excellent company.