Sunday, April 17, 2016

Students Protest Everything, Then Complain, "It's Not Fair!"

I've been teaching a long time and have had many, many, many occasions where students felt entitled to special treatment. (Did I mention there were many occasions of this?)

The conversation starts something like this: "I don't feel that I deserve..." or "I don't agree with your policy on..." or even "I have so much work, I can't...."

Being the consummate professional that I am, I have always responded to students with a polite restatement of my class policies.

The usual answer to my responses is, "That's not fair!"

That is the new logic, propagated by the left. The argument goes something like this: I don't like X. I will complain in order to change X. If X doesn't change, I will protest until I change X. If X still doesn't change, it's not fair! I will then start name calling.

In just one class this semester, four students complained the first week of class. All wanted me to change class to suit them. All began the process by 1) arguing how unfair their life was, 2) demanding special treatment, and 3) telling me how mean/unfair/stupid I was for having such a policy in the first place. They became especially "put out" when I didn't give in to their demands for special treatment.

Many students now start the process by sending rude emails or texts. In their emails, they don't pretend to civilized behavior, hidden behind the relative anonymity of the interwebs.  More frequently, student responses are aggressive, accusatory, rude, or abusive.

Inevitably, when denied special treatment, these students file grievances with my department, which must then be investigated and settled. The process wastes everyone's time. (As I am perfectly justified in outlining and keeping class policies, not a single grievance has ever moved past my department chair.)

The mental state and ignorance of today's university students is cause for concern. In my classes, I attempt to teach civilizing lessons and to model good behavior, but that is a drop in the abyss compared with the vast wasteland that our university system has become.

I have few answers to help today's epidemic of ignorance, other than the hope and ideal that someday we may return to the standards of learning from the past and helping students develop real skills in thinking, rather than the pale imitation of thought most students now seem to have.