Monday, July 07, 2008

"You have the brain of a four-year-old, and I'll bet he was glad to get rid of it."

It's funny- when I started TAing, I was aghast at the lack of intellectual curiosity on the part of our students. Eventually though, I've come to ignore it and focus on trying to become better at teaching: sort of like they're a practice generation! Also, I do see it as a generational thing.

Other people see it that way as well, but they are more worried by the younger generation than I am. Here's a quote from an article about a book called "The Dumbest Generation":

"Increasingly disconnected from the "adult" world of tradition, culture, history, context and the ability to sit down for more than five minutes with a book, today's digital generation is becoming insulated in its own stultifying cocoon of bad spelling, civic illiteracy and endless postings that hopelessly confuse triviality with transcendence. Two-thirds of U.S. undergraduates now score above average on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, up 30% since 1982"

Ouch! Okay, let me just point out one thing- yes, people have always thought that the younger generation is dumber than they were. However, generations also rebel against the generation that came directly before theirs. I remember, as a 20 year old brat, knowing entirely too many college kids from Generation X who struck me as being way too serious and PC. And I would say that I see a sort of knee-jerk rebellion against that in my students: they are definitely not serious or PC. But, they're also not dumb. They're just not really interested in very much, and hence they're not really very interesting either.

I think this will change. If this generation really comes across as narcissistic and stupid to people (as if they could really compare to the Baby boomers in terms of narcissism!), then I would expect the generation that comes next will rebel wholeheartedly against that. And, believe it or not, I see the first sprouts of that already. Maybe they won't be any smarter, but I don't really think that Idiocracy will come to pass either.

(Note: written while extremely tired. I am now going to bed.)

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