Rusty Nails (SCO v. 36) – Graduate Edition

u no wat im sayin?
In We Don’t Need Know Education, Mike Adams laments the writing (and speaking) quality of today’s average university student.

I’m getting to be a crabby old man and I’m not even fifty. But working at a liberal university for eighteen years has taught me never to accept responsibility for my actions or my disposition. Instead I blame my most recent bad mood (the one I’m in right now) on a student who just asked me a question about the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case United States v. Leon, (1984). Wanting to know the holding, he asked if it meant “that the police can rely upon a search warrant they don’t reasonably no is invalid.” I almost told the student there was know way he was going to pass my course if he didn’t no the difference between “know” and “no.” But I just new I would get in trouble if I did.

Maybe I’m getting to be a crabby old man, and I’m already over fifty, but I don’t recall there being such a disparity between college-age adults and post-college adults when I was in university.


Experience without Reason results in empty pews
It’s become hip for Christian leaders to toss around the “80% [or substitute some other large value] of the kids in our youth groups will leave Christianity by the time they finish college” warning. Regardless of the actual number, most will agree that we live in a time when more people claim to have no belief (or religious affiliation) than ever before.

Brett Kunkle, at Stand to Reason, has a novel idea: Why not teach apologetics to our Christian youth before they leave for college? Yeah, I know, in an age of touchy-feely, Jesus-wants-to-have-a-personal-relationship-with-you Christianity, teaching hard-hitting material which causes one to exercise their brain is considered revolutionary.

To drive the point home, Brett will sometimes role-play as an atheist college professor and present his case to unsuspecting Christian high school students (see video below). Take the time to see how the youth do in defending their faith. How would the youth group in your church do?


I’m OK, You’re OK; but I can’t tie my shoes
From Jerry Weinberger,

I’ve been a professor of political philosophy in the political science department at Michigan State University for almost 40 years. I was chair of the department for four years. So I know a thing or two about the state of the student body…

…more and more of my students, and not just freshmen, can’t tie their own shoes. They lose syllabi and can’t follow simple instructions; they don’t get the right books; they e-mail me to ask when and where the final exam will be held (as if they didn’t know when they signed up and don’t know how to find out); they forget to bring blue books to exams; they make appointments and don’t keep them; and many never come to office hours at all, except perhaps on the day before an exam.


College is a waste of time
Some college students are finding the whole idea of dropping a wad (or, their parent’s wad) to be caged in for four years, inculcated in the ways of the world, to not be their style. Dale Stephens writes,

I left college two months ago because it rewards conformity rather than independence, competition rather than collaboration, regurgitation rather than learning and theory rather than application. Our creativity, innovation and curiosity are schooled out of us.

Interesting. He also mentions Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future, which predicts a “free agent economy” in this new world economic order we’ve found ourselves in.

In a Michael Ellsberg article highlighting Stephens, we get a glimpse at the counter-cultural notion that young-adults (aka teenagers) are more than capable of entering the full-fledged “adult” world.

Usually when we hear the words “disruption” together with “teenagers,” we think of loud talking in movie theaters, playing clown in class, and other discipline problems.

But teenagers like Stephens are engaging forcefully in a very different—and more profitable—form of disruption: disruptive innovation, as first described in detail by Clayton Christensen in The Innovator’s Dilemma.

Instead of perpetuating the myth of adolescence, in which we train our young-adults to expect the years of 13 – 20+ to be years of unfettered FUN, why not task them with the responsibility of being productive members of society?

Yeah… I know. Where’s the fun in that?

On introverts, lazy kids, and rude teachers

High School teacher Natalie Munro has, evidently, caused quite a stir recently with her blog posted rants about the many shortcomings of her students and her students’ parents. From the National Post, ‘Frightfully dim’: Teacher suspended for blog insulting students,

Although she didn’t name her school or any students, she used her real first name and initial and had a photo of herself. In a completely unsurprising turn of events, school officials found her out.

Parents, administrators and students alike weren’t too impressed with how she described her pupils:

  • “A complete and utter jerk in all ways”
  • “Although academically okay your child has no other redeeming qualities”
  • “I hear the trash company is hiring”
  • “I didn’t realize one person could have this many problems”
  • “There’s no other way to say this, I hate your kid”
  • “Rat-like”
  • “Dresses like a streetwalker”
  • “Frightfully dim”

Indeed, such candidly negative descriptions of one’s students seems to exemplify virtues contrary to what one would expect from a teacher. Although, I wonder if Munro’s crime was not so much that she has negative feelings about some of her students as that she committed those feelings to print (cyber-print, as it were). How many of Munro’s colleagues have similar feelings about some of their students? For that matter, how many students have negative feelings about some of their teachers? Yeah. You know what I’m talking about.

Could it be, however, that those criticizing Munro are over-simplifying the problem at hand? Consider what Susan Cairn stated on her blog Quiet,

I want to talk about Munro’s view of quiet and shy students. Here, according to her blog entry of January 21, 2010, is what she wished she could put on their report cards:

  • “A kid that has no personality.”
  • “She just sits there emotionless for an entire 90 minutes, staring into the abyss, never volunteering to speak or do anything.”
  • “Shy isn’t cute in 11th grade; it’s annoying. Must learn to advocate for himself instead of having Mommy do it.”

Munro seemed to have no understanding of how tough a place the typical American high school can be for introverts — like an all-day cocktail party without any alcohol. She believed that these kids should suck it up and act like everyone else. And she was right, to a certain extent; we all need to fake it a little, extroverts too. I’ve met many introverted kids who are thriving and happy, and most of them have learned how to adopt an extroverted persona when need be.

It seems that what we have here is a classic example of the diversity of the human psyche. Contained within a typical classroom are students (and teachers) of various personality types, learning styles, and intelligence levels, who also bring with them the baggage of life – both the good and the bad. If this complexity exists, then it should be no surprise that it manifests itself in equally complex ways.  Thus, a “kid that has no personality” may indeed not have a personality, or he may have mental issues, or he may be extremely apathetic, or he may tend towards not publicly displaying emotion, or any combination of the above.

Is Munro unable to discern the simple fact that humans have differing personalities? It does seem difficult to comprehend that one who is used to seeing classrooms full of new students, each year, would be so myopic. In our own home school household we have seen this clear distinction in differing learning styles, as related to personality differences, with a total sampling of only 2!

If, in fact, Munro is an extrovert who has her blinders on with regards to the diversity of human personality traits, then it would be in her best interest to educate herself on this subject – to expand her horizons – indeed – maybe she should think outside the box.

Yet, before we dismiss Munro’s opinions of her students, and condemn her for having the audacity to express them, could it be she has thought outside the box and is now alerting us to another problem in our midst? Could it be that, within the walls of our public schools, there are students who are lazy, whiny, apathetic, and disrespectful?


“My students are out of control,” Ms Munroe, who has taught 10th, 11th and 12th grades, wrote in one post.

“They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners. They curse, discuss drugs, talk back, argue for grades, complain about everything, fancy themselves entitled to whatever they desire, and are just generally annoying.”

And from Yahoo!News,

“They get angry when you ask them to think or be creative,” Munroe said of her students in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday. “The students are not being held accountable.”

Munroe pointed out that she also said positive things, but she acknowledges that she did write some things out of frustration — and of a feeling that many kids today are being given a free pass at school and at home.

“Parents are more trying to be their kids’ friends and less trying to be their parent,” Munroe said, also noting students’ lack of patience. “They want everything right now. They want it yesterday.”

Some may say, in response to the last two article quotes, “well, that’s not news”. Yes, it is not news that today’s students are “out of control”. Yet, it would be too easy to scapegoat the reason why: drugs, being coddled, lack of federal money, teacher’s unions, extrovert / introvert, parents, lack of parents, the myth of adolescence, learning styles, technology, affluence, etc. Rather than a single reason, could it be “all of the above”?

I think that with a problem rooted in complexity, the solution will reflect a similar complexity.

  • Teachers need to exercise patience with problem students, learn how differing personality styles affect differing learning styles, and display a genuine interest in their students – among other things.
  • Parents need to get involved in the lives of their children, not cater to their children, discipline their children, and love their children with a tough, yet gentle, love – among other things.
  • Students need to grow up, exercise respect, study, work, and think – among other things.
  • Society needs to stop blessing adolescent activities as normal, stop treating young adults as children, stop putting the notion of “self-esteem” on a pedestal, stop throwing money in the wrong direction, and start demanding results from students, parents, and teachers – among other things.