As a person who is in a stable same-sex relationship, I have never been curious to know what was life like in the 1960’s and 1970’s. As a student, I am a little curious.
As a student, I want to learn. I strongly believe that every little thing I learn will somehow help me in the future- even if it may not seem like it at first. When I go to class, I am eager to find people like me- people willing and wanting to engage in a discussion about the current mistrust of the US by its European allies or the California budget crisis. I would even settle for anything other topic as long as it’s not Justin Bieber or Lindsay Lohan related. However this is hardly the case.
Most of the people I have met so far seem to be more interested in their time off, college parties and anything that doesn’t include a textbook. And I’m not talking about what they’d want to do in their actual time off but what they’d rather be doing at all times. These people can hardly be called students. And that’s just the thing, they aren’t.
In a suffering economy where necessary things are way above reach of the minimum-wage earner, a Bachelor’s degree is no longer for those aspiring to immerse themselves in a world of academia, but rather for those who want a shot at a decent life (given the general consensus that a Bachelor’s degree equals a higher-paying job). But if most of the people in a classroom are only interested in passing with the minimum amount of work, how would this affect what education stands for? Not for learning but a business game where you try to maximize your output (a higher-paying job) while minimizing your input (read little if at all, work less, etc.)? But more importantly, how does this affect those who are actually trying to learn?
I give the last question a bigger emphasis because if at least some people are doing the work, it’s better than no people doing the work. For me the answer was obvious. I’ve had classes where the professors constantly tried to pacify the students by assuring them that the material isn’t too complicated and that they shouldn’t worry too much about it. This made me worry. I got confused. I didn’t understand why my classmates were so freaked out. It made me freak out. Being in this environment made me lose confidence of my own academic skills. I was becoming average.
I am not, by any means, trying to put blame on anyone for my academic performance. I am saying that a classroom mostly full of people worried about a test that is supposed to measure what the people in the classroom should already know, will have an effect on the little percentage of people who weren’t worried at first. This is not an ideal classroom environment. This environment should rather show a room mostly full of confident people. People who will soon be the ones taking over the majority of the US population. I gotta admit that I am not sure if I’d want any of the people in my class to be in charge of my civilian rights- at least not if their current major concern is who’s bringing the booze tonight.
Environment isn’t the only problem though. Here’s another scenario: I am currently considering Nuclear Terrorism as something I would like to do research on for my departmental honors thesis. I came up to my Foreign Policy professor the other day and asked him if he knew any other professor I could talk to about my research project (since he is a visiting professor and can’t commit to help me for a year). He gave me a name. I went back to where I was sitting and asked a classmate if she knew him. She said she didn’t. But another girl nearby who heard our conversation said she did. I asked her what she thought of him- hoping to gain some inside about what kind of material he presented, his lectures, and knowledge in the subject. Her answer? “You gotta do the work, if not, he’ll fail you.” My thoughts? It’s a class, of course you’ll fail if you don’t do the work. My actual answer? “Cool, thanks.”
I’d like to think that she’s the only one on campus who feels this way. Yet she isn’t. My fellow classmates are always looking for a way out. Always looking to minimize input- and they’re getting pretty damn good at it. Education shouldn’t be a business. We need educated people doing jobs that affect other people’s lives- not slackers barely passing with minimum knowledge.