Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ridiculous Item of the Day

In the spirit of CW's blog, here's a ridiculous item of the day for you, this time in higher education. One of my favorite pieces, from Gary Pavela, director of academic integrity at Syracuse University and, according to the USA Today story, author of numerous articles about student conduct:
"'And sometimes a private, candid conversation with an offending student helps.'"
Oh, you mean treat the student like an ADULT? Because, you know, he or she IS ONE?

And this is another doozy about W. Scott Lewis, associate general counsel of Saint Mary's College, in Indiana, and president of the Association for Student Conduct Administration. He
"gives seminars for many colleges through the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management, and he said that a consistently popular topic is how to train faculty members to manage their classrooms in ways that enable them to be respected by students. "We don't train faculty members on that," he said. "They are trained to be great physicists and political scientists, not on how to manage a classroom.""
What? College professors don't know anything about teaching? Isn't that their job? Shouldn't people who TEACH know how to manage a classroom? (This trickles down to high school and below, but let's not go there today.) The assumption here, like in so many places (the company you work for, I'd wager) is that if someone is good at their job, be it being an economist or being a salesperson, then that someone is qualified to teach/lead others when the teaching and leading actually require a completely different set of skills.

I'm not even halfway through the article at this point.

I love that these experts start talking about how to get students to respect you, as a university professor: wear business casual clothes, have students address you as professor or Dr. Newsflash: students don't respect people who cling to superficial displays of power or influence or whatever. They respect people who treat them with respect, who know what they are talking about, and who do their job. I'd had lots of professors who wore nice clothes and who didn't have us call them by their first names, but I respected them for showing me a new way to think about literature, or politics, or the psychology of economics.

And of course there's a dig in there at the entitled attitude of Gen Yers: Lewis said students "these days" have this sense because of their parents. Yah, but let me show you a few choice Gen Xers and Baby Boomers who think the world is their oyster. Someone people think the world revolves around them, buddy, that's a fact of life. Sure, Gen Y is pretty entitled. I can be a big baby, and am often. But I'm 23 years old, what's my middle-aged boss' excuse?

The kicker? This assessment is followed by the addition that "many more [students] have mental health issues, and many feel significant stress over the economy."

Are you freaking kidding me. Students are no more prone to mental health issues than any other population group. Instead, students are under pressure to acheive and are asserting independence by swearing colorfully and often, drinking themselves stupid, and doing other scary, unorthodox things like not wearing shoes, wearing unconventional outfits, playing frisbee at all hours of the night, etc. And students are stressed by the economy so they are swearing more? Yah? So? Isn't everyone? How is this something that needs to be pointed out to professors?

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