Universities are supposed to prepare people to be productive citizens. They are failing miserably because they are failing to reward hard work and initiative. In fact, it is worse than that. They have actually started rewarding dependency in our government schools. At the beginning of every semester, I try to inform students that things will be very different in my class. This latest message, which I have written to my students and will send to them early next month when classes begin, is illustrative. If you are tired of our public schools and universities producing helpless, dependent children instead of productive citizens, please read this column. Consider forwarding it to every teacher you know. You may tell them they have permission to adapt it for their classes.Once upon a time, the late (and yet resurrected) College Misery had regular features on snowflakes failing to Read. The. [Expletive Deleted]. [Conditions of Carriage]. (That last because what higher ed so pretentiously refers to as a syllabus is anything but.)
Professor Adams likely speaks for a lot of people who thought the academic vocation is the opportunity to interact with curious (in all the senses of that word) young people. Reality is something else.
This is important to know because people who have a grammar school mindset irritate their professors. Personally, I didn’t get a PhD to teach kindergarten. I did it because I wanted to debate serious ideas with serious people. It hasn’t quite worked out that way.With the modern version of journals, and endless committee meetings and interdisciplinary fads, there's likely more to his disappointment than clueless students sending clueless electronic mails. And yet the clueless students are the predictable outcome of developments elsewhere in the academy. So too, will be the predictable appeals in case Professor Adams carries out this threat.
The first time I [respond to a clueless inquiry] there will be a “minus” attached to your final grade. The second time there will be a letter grade reduction. The third time you will fail the class. If you write to complain about failing the class, I will personally write the chancellor and ask him to expel you. I might even write the government and petition for your deportation.But his reason for doing so is radical, properly understood as identifying the root cause of the problem.
Please understand that the reason I do this is to spare the larger society. For too long, teachers have been unleashing unprepared adolescents into the workplace. The public schools reward bad behavior, the universities fail to correct it, and it becomes the new norm in the larger society. I’ll have nothing to do with it. If you act like an adolescent in my class, I will do my part to see that you don’t carry those traits into the real world.So mote it be.