A for effort

This just in, America’s youth are a bunch of narcissitically self-entitled little snots.  I’m thinking of an anti-drug commercial right now.  Can you guess which one?

The paper of record (Max Roosevelt), tells me that universities are dealing with “grade disputes” and that the probable cause is “student expectation”.  In other words, “My grades aren’t as high as I think they should be, so we have a dispute.”  Really, it isn’t fair.  You work, like, really really hard all semester.  Ya know, like, going to every class and even reading all of the books that the professor assigns.  You couldn’t possibly, like, receive, like, a C for that.  You even took the time to learn how to use an apostrophe and everything.

We’ll get Grampa Bud’s statement out of the way early, “Who ever told you that life was fair?”

Jason Greenwood of the University of Maryland sums up the student perspective:

“If you put in all the effort you have and get a C, what is the point?” he added. “If someone goes to every class and reads every chapter in the book and does everything the teacher asks of them and more, then they should be getting an A like their effort deserves. If your maximum effort can only be average in a teacher’s mind, then something is wrong.”

If you didn’t get an A, it’s because you didn’t do everything that the teacher asked – and more.  Or maybe it’s because you really have no business being in a university…but i don’t want to sound elitist or anything.

The professors didn’t weigh in much.  This is not surprising as it’s hard to quote someone kicking over the trash can for the tenth time that day, or convey what it looks like when someone pulls out a handful of his/her own hair.  What little they said boils down to, “there’s a problem with the sense of entitlement among students,” and, unfortunately, the mutterings with which they fleshed out this thesis did not get published.

What a professor did do was launch a study to quantify just how much snot runs out of the noses of the student body.  Ellen Greenberger found that two thirds of students surveyed said that explaining to a professor that they were trying hard should count towards a better grade.  It will be great fun to see this horde descend upon the workplace in a few years time and tell their bosses that trying hard should be factored into getting a raise.

Professor Greenberger ends up making a bunch of excuses for the kids.  It might be a “heightened sense of achievement anxiety.”  In which case we can only hope that there is a pill in the pharma-pipeline that can ease achievement anxiety.  Competition and pressure may also be major factors in the whining temper tantrums about what’s deserved and unfair.  To this end, some institutions are attempting to ease the students into learning for the sake of knowledge rather than the end result of a grade.  Another theory posits that the students became high efficiency test takers through high school and just can’t handle professors expecting them to think and express their thoughts.


They’ve been coddled and told that they’re special for their whole lives.  Here’s a lesson for the youth out there reading that won’t even cost one credit hour of tuition:  you’re not special; you never will be special…at least not any more special than anyone else.  A few of you are actually special, but you’re not bitching about how you should get an A for effort because you’re special.  It’s a big, mean world out there and you’re going to have to take off the diapers someday.  Or maybe you don’t think that you’ll have to take off the diapers, and that’s a more serious issue than whether or not a professor gives you the grade you expect.

The professors, however, don’t get the worst of it.  From what i can gather, the administrative offices at universities spend a silly amount of time dealing with this issue.  Worse than the students are the parents who call to set things right for their baby and have been known to go so far as threatening legal action when the university isn’t being “fair”.  If Mommy is still making phone calls on behalf of baby when baby reaches his twenties, we can safely assume that teachers throughout baby’s academic career have been hearing from mommy about how the family expects their baby to be treated.

Did you guess which anti-drug commercial i’ve been thinking of?  It’s the one where dad bursts in on little boy smoking pot and gets off the handle enraged, culminating in his screaming, “Where did you learn to do this?”  The boy, who had found his dad’s box of fun paraphernalia, looks up and says, “I learned it from you, Dad,” tearfully, “I learned it from you.”

And so we conclude another chapter of The Decline and Fall of Western Snivelization.

Cross posted at www.scholarsandrogues.com


~ by Lex on February 19, 2009.

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