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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Are my students lazy - or just unmotivated?

I started a post last night (about the fact that although classes have not yet begun, I'm already getting emails with annoying questions that suggest my students are either stupid or lazy) but I ended up deleting it because I decided it didn't really have a point; I was just complaining, and since I already spend far too much time doing that in real life, I probably don't need to do more of it online. So I had to laugh when I woke up this morning to a post on ProfHacker, titled These Kids Today: How Not to Talk About Undergrads, reminding me that the problem is not always them:
I’m not saying that students, like proverbial customers, are always right, or that you *must* completely change your teaching to one particular style...But you do need to recognize that they can’t always be wrong–or, perhaps more precisely, if your fundamental assumption about them is that they’re unteachable, then that becomes self-fulfilling.
Serendipitously, there was also a related article on Inside Higher Ed about whether 'these kids today' are incredibly lazy or highly sophisticated and creative.What really struck me was something in the last paragraph:
Whether we see the face of laziness or sophistication, nearly all major studies show a student core interested in spirituality and purpose. I have come to conclude that "the dream needs to be stronger than the struggle," and when students commit to causes they deem worthy they are more likely to succeed.
When I encounter a student who appears to be lazy, or narcissistic and entitled, or otherwise exhibiting attitudes that suggest they do not care about their education (or care more about their grade than about whether they are learning), it may help to step back and ask whether there is something I could have done, or could be doing, to better motivate them, to engage them, to get them to see that learning economics is not just about getting a grade in a class but about understanding their world and making better decisions.

Or I could just go vent on Facebook...

1 comment:

  1. Everyone has the right to complain occasionally about students! And surely there are *individual* students who don't much care about their education. (I seem to remember being one as a freshman, though I came around eventually.)

    My point was just that if you find yourself thinking that way about your students as a group, then . . .


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