Who’s to blame for our failing education system? Students! That’s right, I said it—the thought that every college instructor ruminates. At the end of the term, it seems some of my students are dumber than when they started. They haven’t grown any dumber. I just got to know them.
It seems many students have no useful purposes—perhaps beyond serving as an alternate food source. Why must Soylent only come in green, when stupidity comes in a rainbow! Before processing into victuals, lop off their heads and use the contents to fertilize the rainforest. Bye, bye, Global Warming!
After considering such suggestions, you may be pondering my sanity. Don’t worry. I’m also pondering it. I’m one ill-formed argument about pot legalization away from a straight jacket. Just because you’re in favor of legalization, doesn’t mean you need to smoke it. Particularly when writing a paper! I can even smell it on that Word document you emailed me. The smell permeates from the sentence fragments, run-ons and ill-constructed verb tenses. I use the term “verb tenses” nearly as loosely as you demonstrated it. Had I not opened the file, I wouldn’t have known what you were sending. At least you put your name on it this time. I know whom to give the F.
I know someone out there is thinking my suggestion constitutes murder. Apparently you haven’t seen the blank stares on my students’ faces. A lack of brain activity is one definition of death. How can you murder a corpse? I would be willing to offer pardons to students who asked thought-provoking questions; but, there would be rules. Any questions concerning matters covered in class more than twice are illegitimate. “Will this be on the test?” “Can we get extra credit?” And, “Can we get out of here early?” do not count as proof of brain activity. Any questions clearly covered in the syllabus will move a student to the front of the line. We’ll lop off the head right there—in class. Don’t worry, no one will even notice until the video goes viral. Several minutes later, some back-row cell phone jockey will loudly declare, “Dude! Did you just see what happened in class?”
Now, those ill-informed of the realities of college classes, may suggest I’m simply boring. I’ve tried everything in class—lecture, discussion, videos, games, dancing, singing and playing trombone. My bone playing is the auditory equivalent of waterboarding. It would jar consciousness from anyone with even the most modest sense of pitch. But in class, more blank stares!
Some may wonder that if it’s fair for students, it’s also fair for instructors. Okay, then let’s go there! Imagine dragging highly educated professionals to the grinder? I’m guessing Soylent processing begins with a grinder, but what do I know? My degree work never included classes on meat processing. My degree work never included any information useful outside of academia. Why do you think I’m teaching these slackers!
Upon further reflection, dragging instructors to the grinder seems ludicrous. Let them teach for ten years. You won’t need to drag. They’ll volunteer! They’ll march to the grinder with purpose. It’ll be the first time they’ve felt purpose in years. Yes, they used to be vibrant people—with ideas swimming in their heads, fire coursing through their hearts and compassion dancing in their souls. The blank stares extinguished that. The blank stare isn’t a void; it’s a heaping helping of apathy! It’s a statement that the instructor isn’t viewed as a person. They are viewed as an obstacle between the student and the degree.
We might as well kill students now. Their degrees are worthless. At most it’s a ticket to corporate serfdom. Used to be that serfdom was earned through a high school diploma. But, that was in the days when students worked hard and cared, so the diploma carried some weight. That was also in the days when companies cared—when employees were viewed as people and management had emotional attachment. Now, management is composed of MBA’s with blank stares. It’s the same stare that existed in the classroom, but now it’s at some profit and loss statement, where employees are seen as liabilities. These managers are the lucky few whose degrees served as golden tickets, only to find that Willy Wonka isn’t a fun loving chocolatier. He’s a slick-talking politician with a bad toupee. And, the factory doesn’t produce chocolate. It produces Soylent in a rainbow of colors.