19 September 2011

Do your students act entitled?

Last week, The Current had a segment called, “Entitled University Students.” It was a feature related to a new book on Canadian universities, but generally, large social trends in the Canada are often very similar to those in the United States. But the overarching student attitude described by the panel participants – entitled, pampered, immature, unprepared, unwilling to take criticism – is not at all what I see in my students.

I get two dominant vibes off my students.

The first is fear.

Fear of speaking out, fear of the professor, fear of getting a bad grade, fear of not getting a job after they finish their degree. Students rarely dispute marks, for instance, except in very obvious errors.

The second is fatigue. What others have described as laziness to me just feels like the weariness of being into year fourteen of being given more seemingly arbitrary homework. An attitude of, “Here we go again...” That does, I think, translate into what other professors see as “laziness” or “minimalism.”

Most of my students don’t act entitled. They act beaten. They act cowed. They act like a big boot is going to come down and squish them like a little ant at any second.

I suspect some of this might be because of the particular institution that I am working at, and the particular majors I am usually working with. Maybe I am just terrifying. Faculty elsewhere, your thoughts?

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