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December 13, 2007

An abuse of power–mad end-of-term ramblings

Filed under: American culture,New Broads,students — by maggiec @ 5:08 pm

With a title like that, you’d think I was talking about someone in politics.  I’m not.  I’m talking about myself.  For my freshman writing classes’ final assignment, I made them read the last blog entry I wrote.  Since they inspired it, I thought it would be a good idea.  Then I made them write a self-reflective essay.

Some agreed with me.  Many took umbrage.  Some think I just don’t understand them.  Others think that I don’t know the real them, but just the them at school.  Sorry, I thought school was real life for them.  My mistake.

One wrote how he was the product of his society, so it’s all our fault. 

And I think he’s right on many levels.

We are actually creating a pliable, complacent group of workers.  I am pretty sure that not all young people are this passive.  Let’s just say I refuse to believe that all young people are this passive.  I’m sure there are pockets of kids being groomed for leadership roles in the future.  But it’s not my students.

Mine are mostly the first generation students.  Many are grandchildren of immigrants.  They are climbing into the middle class and are happy to be there.  The dormant Marxist in my brain is screaming warnings at them.  Sometimes the warnings slip out of my mouth.  I want them to realize that they can be more.  That the American Dream is not just about materialism.  There’s more to it.

I guess it gets back to my song and dance about commercialization.  It’s as if Americans use cheap material goods as a pacifier.  Retail therapy is considered a catch-phrase not an imbalance.  When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.  That was funny as a joke, but for too many people it’s not a joke.  Why worry about the future when there’s a sale on at Macy’s, and they’re open till midnight?!

Unfortunately, I don’t have time for more musing.  With a perfectly straight face, I must leave now and go shopping.  If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, eh?  And we’re about to have a snowstorm, so I want to stock up on salt and sand.

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2 Comments »

  1. “Others think that I don’t know the real them, but just the them at school. Sorry, I thought school was real life for them. My mistake.”

    I think this is spot on. Most people (I don’t think this is limited to college) have different agendas for different situations in life, having on set of rules, goals or whatever, for each situation. They go to school because they feel they ought to, they do what they feel like in their spare time, they work to earn money.

    I firmly believe in having one agenda for my entire life. My goals are the same whatever I’m doing and I’m basically the same person regardless of circumstance, because I try to avoid chopping life into small pieces. Leading a coherent life is highly prioritised for me and I think this is why I’m content with myself and my life.

    If a student feels that the only reason s/he is doing something is because s/he ought to, they probably won’t invest enough time/effort to perform the task adequately, it is only when the goals are integrated and one attends courses primarily because of more general motivations that one can truly benefit from them. I can feel this very intensely as some courses fall within the boundaries of my main agenda (thus spending a lot of time on them), and others falling beyond the boundaries (thus spending enough to pass them, but not a minute more).

    Sadly, this doesn’t bring us to any form of conclusion what to do about it, so for the moment I will just continue studying for my final exam in Chinese for this semester.

    Comment by Olle Linge — December 14, 2007 @ 12:15 pm |Reply

  2. This isn’t actually my comment. It’s a student’s reply from the final writing assignment. I didn’t even ask if I could quote him, so I won’t name him here. But he’s one of the reasons I can retain my hope:

    “Though we may not read all of our writing assignments and come to every college class, we are not necessarily mind-numbed robots (actually, most of us are that). Instead, I believe we are uninspired and unimpressed. What have we, as a generation, been shown to strive for? We have been taught that if we sit in a chair and listen to speeches for the first 22 years of our lives that we may—just may—get a good job. And then what? We have a life of economic woes, several divorces, and an uncertain, politically-corrupted future to look forward to. We are encouraged to be “great Americans,” and while that may have meant something at one time, the words have since been reduced to hollow shells stuffed with hidden agendas and lies, lies, lies from our parents and grandparents who have since forsaken the foundations of the greatest nation this world had ever known.”

    ….

    While it must seem terrifying to some that this wastrel, lazy, button-smashing, poor excuse of a degenerate generation will one day be the doctors, teachers, and politicians who will lead this country, I think it is important to hold on to the one thing that has made America America—hope

    Comment by maggiec — December 16, 2007 @ 5:35 am |Reply


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