Yes, they have to buckle down and focus in Bootcamp Blue Guy, and guess what: they don't like it one bit. And who can blame them when every grain in their body tells them they are the best (or so their parents and at least a thousand selfies tell them), they know everything there is to know (they somehow think), and there's this thing called the internet to tell them ever so kindly what is what and who is who, all at the click of a frigging button. Instant gratification is the new sweat and tears, my friends, and we'd better get used to it lest their vengeful wrath be known! And when I say, "wrath," I mean tantrums and sulks ad infinitum, Facebook rants included. It's quite a spectacle to see intelligent grown-ups act like spoiled little brats. "This is too hard! I don't like it when it's so hard!" Oh come on! Don't you know hard is good? Hard is the only way. (Get your mind out of the gutter.)
My mother taught me practice makes perfect. She taught me there is no shame in giving it your all and failing the first time around. Study. Discover. Try again. Work it out. Nothing will come of nothing. She taught me that a buck found was not the same as buck earned. Which makes me wonder what some parents teach their kids today. Smile into the camera and call it an achievement? I say this because I've been a college professor for twenty years and I've noticed, let's say, an unwelcome change creeping into my students' attitude toward studying and a strong work ethic.
Let me give you an example. When I ask them to read a couple of lines out loud, they give me this look that says, Oh darn, I have to do something, and then, after reading two or three lines they just stop and give me this other look that says, Do I really need to continue? because reading three lines is, of course, serious business, not to mention borderline torture, so I'd better have some pleasant reward up my sleeve to soothe them. Or when I ask them to study five pages, it's like all hell is about to break loose. "Five? That many?" Yes, that many. Hard work builds character. Sighing does not. Copying and pasting somebody else's hard work does not. Using an app to find the answers you're looking for (and not remembering a single thing in the process) does not. Don't they know studying five pages does not constitute an impressive amount by far? Or maybe it does... today.
How my students deal with failure is like the icing on the cake, because they don't. They can't handle disappointment. Whenever I'm discussing something challenging, they give up and turn silent. Life is not supposed to be this hard! College is not supposed to be this hard! God knows it certainly is not supposed to take up so much of their time. Time they'd rather spend online counting their new friends. Don't we teachers know they are leading busy lives? Don't we know they don't have time for this shit? (Pardon my Swedish.) Yes, sir, we have raised an entire generation of princes and princesses who seem to think they deserve the easy way out simply... because. Because they are who they are... princes and princesses, but let's keep it on the down low and stick our heads in the sand.
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