Friday, February 15, 2008

Rude Students

It's nice to know that it's not just me who's been noticing an increasing lack of civility in our college students.

While none of my students have ever gotten violent, I've had to deal with some pretty egotistical people. Like the student athlete who insisted that I must be failing him because he was on the football team, even though I had just gotten through talking to him and he agreed that he could not do the problems on the quizzes; the pre-med student who came into my office to argue that his B+ should be an A because he's a pre-med and pre-meds are pre-meds because they get A's; the student who flunked every midterm and still made a stink with the assistant department head because I gave him an F in the class (he was reincarnated several times as both men and women); the student who in front of the whole class told me what I was saying was "bull$#!^" (that's a direct quote) when I tried to explain to him that he'd gotten a poor score on his quiz because he was doing the chain rule incorrectly; the kid who flunked my class because (by his own admission) he was too arrogant to do homework, then enrolled in it a second time and heckled me from the back till he quit doing his homework and flunked out a second time; the student who complained that he couldn't possibly have flunked his midterm because he thought he had done well... do I need to go on? because I can. And I've only been teaching part-time for, oh, about 10 years. I'm sure that I got a nice representative sample, so if I'd been teaching full-time I'd have more examples.

Oh, I know these characters have been around for ages, probably since the founding of the first universities. But over the 10 years I've been teaching, I've noticed a distinct uptick in the proportion of these losers. There are at least one or two in every dozen now, and that's not counting the students who don't bother to come mouth off to the professor but instead slander her behind her back.

Here's what they have in common:
  • They are absolutely convinced that they poop roses. There's nothing you can say to them that will convince them that it is possible that they might be wrong. Of course they're right-- 13 years of public schooling has taught them that! Often it takes a good flunking to teach them that they can be wrong.
  • They don't think anything of being verbally abusive. It is their God-given right to call you whatever the hell they want. They have no manners and treat professors like servants.
  • They have no sense of classroom decorum. If they have a dispute with you, even a tiny one like you forgot a point on their 100 point test, they want to take it up in the middle of the lecture in front of everyone, instead of after class in your office.
  • There's a distinct sense of entitlement to a passing grade. They honestly believe their grade should be in direct proportion to the temperature of their chair.
Folks, this is the work of Your Tax Dollars. These kids spend 12 years being told that whatever they do is good enough. At some point, all people have to discover that life isn't fair and that there are some things you aren't prepared to do. By putting off this discovery until kids are 18, parents and teachers are doing them an extreme disservice, not to mention a disservice to people like me who have to be the ones to deal the blow the parents and especially the teachers were too cowardly to administer.