Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Recent rant on a list-serv...

RE: students not being able to pass the citizenship test and/or not being aware of current events...
I, too think that this is disconcerting, however, I am not that surprised. Given that our economy is one of consumption, it makes sense that students (and others) are busy consuming...entertainment, food, time through the ubiquitous use of social media, etc., at the expense of "school." School inevitably loses in the competition for attention, if for no other reason, our marketing budget is far, far less than that of the entertainment (read "product sales of any kind") industry. Let's be realistic, they out-spend us annually by billions of dollars. Who can compete against Xbox? Facebook? iPhones? Chili's? American Apparel? Consider that students are exposed to thousands of ads on a daily basis for these "products" and weigh that consideration against paying attention to stuff that is decidedly NOT entertaining...politics? social unrest in other parts of the world? genocide? nuclear meltdowns? "Nah, pass the chips and salsa, the remote for the Tivo, and the Corona...I got better things to do (like entertain myself) than watch this depressing crap."
Don't forget, we are also dealing with the leftover (now reheating) "culture wars" which equated being educated with being an elitist or, God forbid, a liberal (several years ago I had a student in class state that, "Science was a liberal endeavor"). And many states are cutting funding for education in a hopeless attempt to balance budgets, AND the unemployment rate is still high, AND the feds are cutting education funding...makes sense to me that more kids are opting for entertainment VS reality -- hell, reality sucks. Entertainment is...entertaining!!!
Last time I heard about "job creation" it was the creation of lower-paying (i.e., not much education required) jobs, so who needs to "waste time" getting an education when it isn't going to pay off? I have seen articles in various mediums discussing how getting a college education isn't worth the money! Plus, most of my students work AND go to school, so when they are not busy with family, school, entertainment, they are working (consequently "entertainment" is most appealing).
In sum, I think we are fighting the proverbial uphill battle; I don't know how we are faring in the war, but it sure seems like we ain't winning.