Friday, July 9, 2010

The Scary Realization that I Keep Seeing My Students on TV

Ok, I admit it. I have been watching too much documentary-style reality TV.

No, not crap like The Bachelor(-ette) or Real Housewives of Nowhere Special.

My fave is actually The Little Couple (Doctor Jen is the bomb!), but that show's not applicable to this post. I've been watching stuff like Little People, Big World and Police Women of (insert crime-ridden area here) and I am shocked that I keep seeing my students on these shows! Ok, not my actual students. But, I keep seeing people who remind me of them.

Little People, Big World features a family of 2 dwarf parents with 1 dwarf child and 3 "normal" height children. The 2 oldest sons are twins who are now attending college. Whoa! Watching their snowflakery is giving me flashbacks!

Some highlights: Kids attend private Christian high school. They have small classes. They don't do homework. They get failing grades. They do "extra credit" projects to pass basic classes. They (and their friends) go to summer school. One of their friends flunked senior year. The twins "forgot" to apply to college, so they go to community college instead. They bring a new meaning to the word slacker (in a collegiate sense)...and I've had their analogs in my own classes many times. Dear God, I hope they're not role models!

Police Women of... follows a handful of female police officers on their daily patrols. We get to see them in danger, how they do their jobs, and the odd people they encounter. I get flashbacks when they confront lawbreakers because the crooks act just like some of my former students!

Cop: *pulls bag out of perp's pocket* Is this your weed?

Perp: No. No, man. That ain't my weed. You framin' me, man. That ain't mine. Where'd it come from?

MeanProf: *points to paper* See this paragraph? It's plagiarized. Here's the original... *pulls out original source with paragraph highlighted.*, student: No. No, man. I ain't no plagiarist. It was an accident! Yeah, it's just an accident. You're accusing me because you're out to get me! I didn't do nothing wrong.

I've always seen student-analogs on Judge Judy and The People's Court, but going to small claims court is a situation any of us could theoretically be involved in. But when I realized my students almost always seem to take the same naysaying attitude when they are caught breaking the rules as common criminals do when caught committing a crime, that's kinda scary when you think about it! And it's no wonder some of us feel more like police officers than teachers.

I don't know what the heck all this means, but I don't really care for the unsettled feeling it's given me.


  1. I'm a criminal defense lawyer who follows several education blogs, and as I read complaints about students today, I often think, "They sound just like my clients!" One major difference, of course, is that my clients tend to be from minority communities that have reason to view the police as adversaries (the police return the favor). When confronted, it almost always works out better to lie or refuse to answer. I'm only surprised that I don't see more reports of students insisting, "I've got rights!" when caught. At least when my clients say that, they actually have the U.S. Constitution to back them up.

  2. When I found out that university tutors were writing my students' programs for them, something inside me died.

  3. szoszolo: It's ironically nice to hear someone from the legal profession confirm my dark suspicion that these two phenomena were related. I often tried to explain to my students that the Student Code of Conduct is effectively a set of laws regarding their roles as students, but, sadly, so many of them refuse to accept that analogy. Of course, that's mostly because they get "excused" from following those rules if they complain anyway...

    I've said for years that there's a sizable number of Millennial-aged undergrads who are exhibiting some of the patterns of sociopaths -- Is this more proof?

    As added data, I have taught at schools that educated primarily students from the working class, lower class, and lower middle class, so minorities are prominently represented (~20% of any class was "non-white"). The behavior crossed race lines, but did seem to coagulate around socioeconomic status (as guessed by speech patterns, high school attended, home location, etc.).

    I think a lack of respect for authority figures was the ultimate cause (because they're always perceived as the enemy). Don't know for sure though.


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