Friday Rant: I hate the "meh" generation!

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So, I mostly just need to get this out and off my chest. I HATED MY CLASS TODAY!

I teach US History 2 and today we covered the Great Depression. I played excerpts from the films Top Hat (Fred Astaire musical) and Duck Soup (Marx Brothers comedy) and we tried to discuss the two.

The Plan:

Show them the musical, explain that it was an escapist film, big production numbers, lots of singing etc.

Show them Duck Soup: discuss how it poked fun at musicals and politics.

What Actually Happened:

They stared at me. I asked about Top Hat and actually asked "What kinds of images did you see, just describe it to me" *crickets* - - - tentative answer of "fancy dress, singing etc"

I asked how Duck Soup might be making fun of musicals *crickets* nothing. . . nothing . . . nothing I nudge them, "what happened at the end of one of the big songs?" *crickets crickets* I finally just said, ok well, Groucho was supposed to come out, but didn't, so it was making fun of that cliche.

Tried again, and asked, how might this be making fun of politics. *crickets crickets* So I wound up explaining some of the political commentary in the film.

Now, I don't expect students to be falling over themselves in love with the films I show, but I DO expect them to TRY TO PARTICIPATE IN CLASS.

It's days like this that I hate my job trying to teach, the unmotivated "Meh" Generation. Even when I try to make it engaging and fun with some pop-culture it falls completely flat.

*end of rant, cracks open a beer*

We all have days like that. Sometimes I have whole semesters like that. It sucks.

I have the same problem in virtually all my classes (I teach in a large business school). Part of the problem comes from the fact that most of the time students haven't read the textbook (assuming they even purchased a textbook), so they're seeing the material for the first time when I present it. It is indeed frustrating.

What's worse is that when I ask for questions at the end of the class or after discussing the topic in detail I get blank stares. When I press the issue I usually hear, "We don't know what questions to ask", as if I have been lecturing in Greek.

My theory is that most of this is a result of the "teach-to-the-test" pedagogy that these students have grown up with throughout their academic career prior to college. They haven't developed any worthwhile study skills, nor do they have the ability to do much critical thinking. To them college is just an extension of HS... "will this be on the test?" and "what do I need to pass this class" are the only questions many of them seem to care about.

I hope I'm wrong about this. Frankly I would welcome any ideas about how to address this from the more experienced fora members.

OP, your post has me in stitches. Please do not take offense. I am sending you a PM to explain why.

I've had this problem too with showing film clips in class. I've found that it works much better if I give them things to look for ahead of time. I did this today, in fact, and handed out worksheets for them to fill in as they were watching. It's also just hard to get them back out of their movie-watching stupor, though.


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