They're addicts, I know. But when I'm giving them my personal best -- clarity, expertise, years of experience, and visible passion -- and even throwing in new media for spice, yet at least half of them don't even know what universe they're in, so entranced are they by their all-in-one entertainment machines -- well, I have to wonder why I or they bother to be in the room. As sagacious commentators have noted, we proffies can't compete with these omnibus pieces of technological handiwork that offer television, movies, music, pictures, chats, celebrity and sports sites etc. -- literally in the palm of one's hand. Impossible, I think, even if we try to turn our teaching into a circus (which would just debase our profession and student learning).
I honestly feel that I simply can't work properly under these conditions. I can't do my job when, without exaggeration, at least half of my students (maybe even most) make last night's Halloween zombies look like paragons of cognitive acuity. And, yes, their grades reflect their pea-brained attention spans and frequent inability to understand even the simplest notions, no matter how well explained by me, the talking head whose visage and voice I'm sure they wish they could minimize as they would a pesky online pop-up screen.
Do I use an incremental approach, first reminding them of the rules, and then singling out the worst offenders and working my way down the chain if need be? Do I ban the idiot boxes altogether? (Sure way to get snuffed in a nuclear fashion on the class eval.) All I know is that the natural devotion to teaching that I've always had is being extinguished by this relentless march toward the insipid. (I also don't think that getting rid of lectures, putting more courses online etc. is the answer. This problem points not just to a transformation but a degradation of consciousness itself and interpersonal life that bears vast implications.)
Q: Is teaching dead?