Sunday, December 4, 2011

ChrryBlstr On The Disengaged and the Clueless.

This earlier quote that I came across on the site prompted me to write for the first time:

“…the 19th century: a large, undereducated underclass that will do what it's told, and like it. We're already partway there, if the fucktards in Wisconsin are any indication.”

I’ve since posted it as my FB status, and in a roundabout way, it speaks to my continuing struggle with the idea of young people’s disengagement versus apathy.

As a doctoral student and adjunct faculty in the Great White North, my teaching experience is relatively limited; 4 years teaching undergrads and master’s students. Therefore, I’m no expert on snowflakes.

At any rate, since it relates somewhat to my research, I decided to ask my second-years about their opinions regarding the Occupied Movement. Much to my surprise, a third of them (from two separate courses that I teach) had absolutely NO fucking clue what I was talking about! A third of just under 200 students! While this response may (perhaps) excuse those not necessarily in a related discipline, each and every one of these snowflakes are in the Communication and Culture program!

Nevermind their opinions about it, how can they not even be aware of (arguably) the largest social movement in the West since the late 60s –early70s? What the hell are they watching on television besides Jersey Shore? What the heck are they doing with social media besides surfing for the latest Rihanna video, posting compromising pictures of themselves and their crew and complaining about their workload and finals?

I believe that I may have just inadvertently discovered a third option to the paradigm. Disengagement and apathy be damned: these snowflakes are just plain clueless!

By ChrryBlstr


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  2. It's not that bad. Your students probably smelled the local OWS and avoided it. At least on a primal level, they are aware of it. They just don't know why hobos, socialists and adults doing something other than sittng in their parents basement are hanging out downtown.

  3. That's what people said about those protesting the Vietnam war.

  4. Beaker Ben: I do wish that you were correct, but I highly doubt it. My campus is located in suburbia, so not exactly at arms length of the former encampment.

    Actually, prior me to having their more informed peers explain the movement to them, I asked something along the lines of "Who here has not heard of or is unaware of the Occupy Movement?"

    I kid you not. ONE THIRD! NO CLUE! I counted.

  5. That's nothing new. While I was teaching (also up here in the Great White North), it seemed that for my students, the news consisted only of their favourite sports teams and whichever movie or TV celebrity was popular. I quit teaching nearly 10 years ago and have no idea of what it's like now.

    By comparison, when I started my undergrad studies, the major events in the news included the "energy crisis", Watergate, and the Yom Kippur war. Occasionally, those may have come up during mealtime conversations when people weren't discussing what happened during the previous night's booze-up.

    Back then, there were fewer TV channels, no cellular telephones, the Walkman hadn't been invented yet, and it wasn't unusual to read a newspaper. I have no idea how informed my classmates were about world events because I didn't socialize much as I concentrated on my studies. It wouldn't have surprised me, however, if they knew why the Watergate hearings were being held or why the price of oil had sharply risen.

  6. I believe your experience is an anomaly. Perhaps due to your suburban environment?

    I teach at 3 different universities (one college town, one urban environment, and one online), and in all three my students regularly discuss the Occupy movement, its goals, and its potential success/failure. At my online university (a conservative, military university), the students have recently begun to use slogans in the discussion forums and in their papers.

    So not only do my students overwhelmingly know about and even follow the Occupy movement, they also have begun (unwittingly?) adopting its slogans.

  7. AM - Thank you. That gives me a bit of hope.

  8. I polled my 80 students (in quiz form) about the Occupy Movement because I wanted to use it as a possible prompt for our final exam and I didn't want them walking into that completely unaware. Only 2 did not know what it was, but wrote that they thought it had something to do with the UC Davis students being pepper sprayed, although they didn't know WHY.

    My students said it was something they'd seen highly discussed on Facebook.

    We are in a rural area (as in... nearest grocery store is 40 miles away)... perhaps this means they spend more time online than others???

  9. To be fair, I recall being only dimly aware of current events as an undergrad. The Berlin wall came down and I was only vaguely aware of it.

    Why? No TV in my room. Communal TV was used only occasionally, to watch movies late at night. Newspapers were not common to come across. Internet did not yet exist outside of a DARPA lab.

    For the first time in my life, I didn't have oodles of free time. I was busy - either socially or academically. Cramming my head all week and keeping up was enough intellectual engagement - I didn't crave more.

    Maybe that was just me.... but personally, I'd lay off. It's not like Occupy has gotten all THAT much press in the mainstream media. (Compare to, say, Herman Cain.)

  10. I'm with you ChrryBlstr. I polled one of my classes a couple weeks ago. About 2/3's had heard of the Occupy protests, but only about 10% actually felt like they knew what the protests were about. I'm at a rural SLAC though, so that probably explains it.

  11. I'm in one of the biggest urban areas in the country. All my students knew what Occupy is, but a pretty substantial minority thought that income inequality was just peachy and that the occupiers should quite whining and get a job.

    It made for an an interesting, if somewhat disheartening, discussion.

  12. At the start of every semester, I use Alvin Toffler's 1970 book _Future Shock_. In chapter 2, he talks a bit about history, and our sense of it: "Even among the young we find an incomprehension of change: students so ignorant of the past that they see nothing unusual about the present” (20). I ask my students what they think of this assessment, brought forward from 40 years in the past--and they often agree with Toffler. I tell them quite baldly that I refer to them (when I am speaking about them to people outside academe) as "the bubble people," and most of them smile sheepishly and nod. Every once in a while I'll have a super-engaged student who wants to argue the point, but by doing so merely proves the exception to the rule. Most of -- but not all, to be sure-- my students are there just to get through it to get the degree, the same way they sat through high school and did enough to graduate.

    These are the same people who see nothing wrong with a CEO making over 100 times what the average worker is paid--after all, that person worked hard and has earned it. They don't know about the Arab Spring, they don't know that Israel is agitating for war with Iran, they don't know that ALEC spends a lot of money buying politicians and legislation--including the Governor of our state--they don't know there's a giant plastic garbage patch the size of Texas in the Pacific, they don't know anything, and it seems like they mostly don't care that they don't know anything. They have no idea what is going on outside of their own little bubbles, which is why I call them the bubble people.

    I also work really hard to *pop* those bubbles, but I'm never sure how successful I am. Some of them do care, and I'm encouraged by their reactions to some of the things we discuss in class--but it's a drop in the ocean.

    @ChrryBlstr, thanks for reading my original post.

  13. Part of this ignorance (part of their bubble) is that they get to choose their news sources by clicking on headlines that interest them, and their music by programming an MP3 player.

    In my day, Missy, why, we woke up to the front page of a newspaper every morning, and then watched the 6 o'clock news every night, and if we wanted music while driving, we turned on the radio and had to hear national news on the hour. And these media outlets weren't all owned by the same company, either (though they may as well have been, given their near uniformity in choosing stories).

    But it's not a brand new bubble. A few days after Hurricane Katrina broke the levies in New Orleans, a colleague spent the first few minutes of class checking in with students to see if they had loved ones trapped there. She was shocked that four (out of 35) had no idea what she was talking about.


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