Saturday, January 29, 2011

How About a Pet Peeve Post?

***In Class***
Student: "I have a question you need to answer"
Teacher: *Walks away*
Student: "Or just walk away, that's cool too."

When I wrote the grouchy post late Thursday night, I was feeling pretty rotten. Since then I deteriorated from rotten to "I don't really want to die but right now it might be preferable to this", and am now back to "I'm alive but I do NOT want to remember the last 36 hours and it's going to take at least 36 more hours before I feel like getting up". So, here I recline with my laptop, catching up on "what I missed". 

I copied the above from Facebook. Now, before I start, do NOT get me wrong. I LOVE teaching and I LOVE my students. I go to school cheerfully most mornings and come home in a good mood most afternoons. BUT.........!!!!!!!!

I don't think too many people argue that our current students have an entitlement issue. They feel entitled. It does not matter what their background, race, socio-economic group or whatever. They feel entitled.

And the above- which represents a "like" page on Facebook, which I saw when one of my BEST former students "liked" it- is symptomatic of that sense of entitlement.

How about "excuse me, could you answer a question?" Or "can I ask something, please?" or even "I am confused, can you explain something?" No, it's "YOU NEED to do what I want and you need to do it NOW".

I have a real problem with students who think that what they want is always more important than anything else going on in class, or any other student in that class. I get interrupted while teaching, routinely, by a single student who wants to know something that only applies to her. I even get interrupted by students who make "announcements", not ask questions, while I am doing something with the entire class.

The real problem for these children is that unless the entire world changes to accommodate their entitlement issues, they are in for a much ruder shock in a few years than my current response to them, which is "if you want to talk to me about something personal, do it after class or on your own time, not during class time". I will even admit that I sometimes lose my patience with students who REPEATEDLY do this, and my answer to them is not always so polite.

Will college professors accommodate this attitude and behavior? I think not. Will professional colleagues and supervisors accept it? I certainly HOPE not. Will those adults think well of other "adults" who engage in this behavior? It seems VERY unlikely.

I spent 16 years in Catholic schools, and certainly for the first 8 at least, "you are not the center of the Universe" was implied when not actually stated. I don't think we heard it much after that, only because it was presumed we already knew it. It is NOT A BAD IDEA to instill into young minds. 

For obvious reasons, learning that others count is central to making young people sensitive to the needs of others. Creating an environment of charity and caring about the larger community is, and should be, part of a good education.

It is also important so that those young people do not suddenly get a shock when they enter the "real world" and learn that others do not necessarily care about their individual needs. 

An example is the MANY Facebook posts I have read from former students, now in college or with jobs, who have written about how the local transit company has messed up "their" day or "their" plans since the major snow storm. Things like "Bleep SEPTA, I was late for class" or "Bleep SEPTA, it took me 2 hours to get home". HELLO????? There is a foot and a half of snow out there. Those transit workers have had to get to work first in order to get you to work or school. Every one on every bus or trolley or train is trying to get somewhere. Maybe the nurse for the ICU at the hospital? The man who will fix the downed power lines for the neighborhood with no electricity? The repairman who will fix a broken heater for the house with no heat?

Yeah, kids, you really DO need to learn that you are not the center of the Universe!


Lace-lovin' Librarian ~ Diane said...


Linda said...

I just received an email from a student who graduated in 1999. In the email he wrote, "I need you to do me a favor..." What? That really gets to me - "I need you to do this for me" - how many times have we heard that?! How about coming to class prepared before you tell me what you need?

Shirley said...

It is good to know that the educators are seeing what is happening inside the student as well as outside. I am really worried for our whole country. I think it really is our fault. We wanted our children to have more than we did and in the end they want even more. It lets them down and us too in the end. Some catch on, but it would seem, the majority do not.