Teaching the Pigs to Sing

Honest to God, you guys; I feel like barnyard the choir director.

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The last few weeks have been an unending shit storm of apathy and belligerence.  Tuesday, for example, 4 out of my 25 freshmen actually did the reading I assigned.  FOUR.  Out of TWENTY FIVE.  They had a major project due – for which I’d given them at least 3 in-class opportunities to work – and only two of them were able to present the project on time (and of those two, one of them was so poorly done as to be laughable).

This morning, three of my 16 seniors read the article I posted on the website.  I should mention here that the reading was due Tuesday, but I extended the date to Thursday because no one had read the article on Tuesday, either.

The thing that astounds me about all of this is that no one can give us any indication of what the cause of the problem is or of how to fix it.

I’ve about had it with this shit; I’m disheartened, I’m tired, and I’m sick unto death of caring more about the students’ grades than they do.

Thank God vacation starts tomorrow.



Filed under dumbassery, failure, frustrations, General Griping, I can't make this shit up..., really?!, student chutzpah, That's your EXCUSE?!, Yikes!, You're kidding...right?

9 responses to “Teaching the Pigs to Sing

  1. Do you have any guesses, no matter how remote, why this occurs? It seems systemic and has me at a loss.

  2. I wish, more than anything else, that I did.

    There are a couple of bright spots – a few kids who have figured it out and are working to get other kids to figure it out, too – but by and large, those bright spots are either ignored or mocked. It’s cool to be apathetic; it’s cool to be dim. Why should I work hard when nothing matters, anyway?

    I wonder if they’re not responding to the general malaise of the culture? The message we got was “work hard, go to college, and you’ll get somewhere in life.” Now, though, that’s becoming less and less true. I know a lot of college grads who can’t find a job (and more than a couple of them who are considering dropping out before their debt load becomes entirely unreasonable).

    Would this be affecting HIGH SCHOOL students, though? I don’t know…

  3. Anonymous

    I teach sixth grade and experieince the same thing. (In a private school yet)
    It starts earlier and earlier evey year… I am not sure how to get their attention, but am open to any and all suggestions.

    • Surprise

      Am I completely out to lunch? The answer seems fairly obvious to me: students who don’t complete their assignments should be punished; students who do should be rewarded. Am I missing something here?

      Of course, in some instances, elementary, middle, and high schools, principals can create cultures of excellence in which students who continually fail to meet performance expectations are shamed and even expelled. This may even be possible at the college level. I remember a math professor at UCLA who, after assigning homework, would call on students socratically in the class to test if they had done the work. It was very embarrassing if you hadn’t, let me tell you. And, a college educator can take it a step further: asking the student to leave the class if they weren’t prepared. Educators can grade on participation and preparedness, too, of course. Again, am I missing something? Are such approaches not possible in today’s colleges?

  4. My nearly 15-year-old explained to me today that “it’s just [her] generation.” That they’re lazy by nature and, what’s worse, they believe that they don’t need to know any of the things school is teaching them.

    I’m sure this isn’t a new idea – in fact, I remember wondering exactly what the value of geometry and Shakespeare were to me at 15 – but even when I explained to her that it’s not necessarily the SUBJECTS that matter but the SKILLS she’s learning as she navigates them, she’s still not buying it. She, like so many of my students, are convinced that they’d do just fine in the world as they are, thank you very much. Of course, they wouldn’t, and it would be criminal of us to allow them to continue to labor under such a fatally misguided assumption, so we continue to have a battle of wills in the hopes that, eventually, they’ll come to their senses (most of us did, right?).

    I’m telling you, though; right about now, I could use a temporary cease fire…

  5. I know you’re super frustrated right now, but will you please give me permission to laugh at (1) your rockin’ opening sentence and (2) your funny tags? Please? It’s just that you NAILED that sense of helpless exasperation I know just too damn well. In some ways, at this low teaching point, it might be more helpful to laugh than cry….

  6. Mae

    I think the reason why your students haven’t been doing the assigned work, more specifically the articles, is because they have to access them in their time (presumably). Even though it is taxing on the environment, consider printing out the article and distributing it. As a high school student, I’m absolutely appalled.

  7. I am experiencing this some, but not too much. I try to remind them that by working hard it makes spring break that much better. We are one week away. I agree. It is not a generational thing. It is being lazy.

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