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.