Monday, September 08, 2008

Are students getting dumber?

Thomas Benton, a columnist for the Chronicle of Higher Education, suggests they are.  I have students who exhibit all of these characteristics.  What does it mean and who is responsible?  He reviews a series of books that discuss this topic.  His emphasis is on the customer service mentality that seems to dominate universities these days.

If you watched the Republican National Convention, you could also see the anti-intellectualism run rampant there.

Here is his core list of troubling attributes he finds in his college students:

  • Primarily focused on their own emotions — on the primacy of their "feelings" — rather than on analysis supported by evidence.
  • Uncertain what constitutes reliable evidence, thus tending to use the most easily found sources uncritically.
  • Convinced that no opinion is worth more than another: All views are equal.
  • Uncertain about academic honesty and what constitutes plagiarism.
  • Unable to follow or make a sustained argument.
  • Uncertain about spelling and punctuation (and skeptical that such skills matter).
  • Hostile to anything that is not directly relevant to their career goals, which are vaguely understood.
  • Increasingly interested in the social and athletic above the academic, while "needing" to receive very high grades.
  • Not really embarrassed at their lack of knowledge and skills.
  • Certain that any academic failure is the fault of the professor rather than the student.

1 comment:

Lammers said...

These things do not indicate that students are "dumber". No one is born with these attitudes. They have acquired them over the past 18-21 years from their environment. We can wring our hands and gnash our teeth, crying "O tempora! O mores!" or we can ask WHY their environment has given them these cues and what we can do about it. I for one am doing all I can in my classes to show them that such attitudes are counterproductive and contrary to their own best interest.