Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Kids These Days, Part CMLXXVIII

Roger Ebert shares this correspondence he had with the eminent David Bordwell:

"In an email the other day, Prof. David Bordwell of the University of Wisconsin responded to a piece I wrote about American education: 'Actually, based on what my colleagues tell me, it's worse than we thought at the college level. Students WILL NOT, and absolutely refuse, to [sic] read anything. Give the assignment, and they just ignore it, even if there's a quiz on the reading.'"

Ebert then replies, "I have no doubt of this."

Wow, I sure do. I love these outright panic attacks based on nothing more than hearsay. I have four children. Two are currently in college. All of the children, down to the youngest at 11, are voracious readers. They love reading for pleasure but also will read what they're assigned. I offer this up not as counter evidence, as all I'm doing is introducing my own personal, unscientifically tested story about what kids read or don't read, but simply to provide another perspective. Then, when Ebert later writes this - "Today the tuition is unimaginably higher, I am informed by Epstein. You want bangs for your buck. Incoming students are pragmatic and ambitions [sic]" - it feels like a contradiction. In other words, students are majoring in what can make them money with a good career. To those ends, they need to do well. To that end, they need good grades. Don't read what you're assigned, no good grades. Not very pragmatic.

Ebert makes several good points in the piece and I agree that the liberal arts ain't what they used to be but let's not sell college students completely down the river as arrogant jerks who refuse assignments like spoiled little princes just because we don't deem them to be as cool as we were in college. All that does is make you look like a giant asshole.