Monday, September 18, 2006

Outta Touch

I know that, due to the way karma operates, as soon as I post this, I will learn about some heretofore unknown way in which I am out of the loop. (Some people already think I'm out of the loop, just because I'm older than they are. Like those whippersnappers in the cafe last week who thought I was just saying that Fall Out Boy, Panic! At the Disco, and some random band on the satellite feed sounded alike because I was old and didn't know any better. "I'm really into Fall Out Boy," said Whippersnapper #1. "That doesn't sound like them at all." Snap!

Actually, it did, and I could hear the similarity not just because I'm older and recognize that once any band gets any attention, there are immediately 27 other bands who try to adopt the exact same sound, but also because I took a couple of music classes in college. So there.)

But anyway - I'm consistently shocked at how out of touch so many faculty are with their students. For instance, take this paragraph from "Facing the Facebook," an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education:

Michael Tracey, a journalism professor at the University of Colorado, recounts a class discussion during which he asked how many people had seen the previous night's NewsHour on PBS or read that day's New York Times. "A couple of hands went up out of about 140 students who were present," he recalls. "One student chirped: 'Ask them how many use Facebook.' I did. Every hand in the room went up. She then said: 'Ask them how many used it today.' I did. Every hand in the room went up. I was amazed."

Um...truth be told, I'm a little amazed. I mean, why is this a surprise? How is it possible that a professor could teach students, face to face in a classroom, and not know that they are spending all their available time on Facebook - and that they are not following the news? Don't these things come up in general conversation? Especially in a Journalism class?!

During my recent travels, I picked up My Freshman Year: What A Professor Learned by Becoming A Student, by Rebecca Nathan (really Cathy Small) in the airport bookstore. Small went "undercover" as a student at her own university to find out what it's really like to be a student in this day and age. After reading for a little while, I realized that the author was a generation older than me: old enough - and out of touch enough - to be surprised by loft beds in the dorms, something that was a staple when I was in college *twenty years ago* (and probably for many years prior to that).

Not that there haven't been changes. (The internet, for example. I don't think we had one when I was coming up.) But what's with all the "oh my gosh, I never dreamed students today were so different"? Where does this shocked and uncomprehending voice come from, as though the students are some sneaky, odd breed who can't be predicted? It isn't that the students are different, folks. It's that we, their teachers, have stopped paying attention.

1 comment:

art2mis said...

You may have had the internet when you were in college -- I did, and I graduated in 1992. But it was called Usenet, and pretty much only we computer science nerds used it. The World-Wide Web did not yet exist, though. Just chat rooms and bulletin boards. Y'know, I miss those days...a little bit.

It's our turn to be out of touch. I wear it with some pride. However, I'm frightened to see some of the styles of the 80's come back. Leggings? Eek! Pretty soon these young whippersnappers will be bringing the claw bangs back! It's their turn to be very, very, silly.