Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.
Date: Fri, 09 Nov 2001 08:01:55 -0500 (EST)
So much moaning and groaning. So much complaining. So much condemnation. So much accusation. So much self-pitying. So much tearing of clothes. So many ashes covering mortarboards. So much exchange of academic robes for sackcloth. So many going around in barefeet. Have you heard them? Have you seen them? It's so rampant and deafening that you'd think the four horsemen of the apocalypse are stampeding through our campuses, that our classrooms are battlegrounds wherein clash the biblical forces of good and evil, that intellectual armageddon is upon the academy, and that academic world is coming to an end.
I hear and read so often hear these accusations and condemnations from bear-footed faculty in sackcloth, holding up placards and hurling warnings that education is going to hell and damning hellish students for putting poor ole us innocent and struggling academics through hell: "it isn't what it used to be," "students aren't what they used to be," "they aren't as serious as they used to be," "they don't want to work hard," "all they are interested in is getting a job," "they're so materialistic," "all they want is to get a higher salary," "they always have excuses," "they don't care about intellectual growth," "they're so apathetic," "they don't want to study," "they're so irresponsible," "they don't the right priorities," "they're so disrespectful," "they're so....."
Let's put everything in a perspective. I have a simple set of questions. Where and when was this golden age when students were paragons of intellectual and moral virtue? When was this golden age when getting job credentials wasn't what it was all about, when getting a grade wasn't what it was all about, when getting a good recommendation wasn't what it was all about? When was this golden age students never asked, "Is he easy" or never looked for the "crib course?" When was golden age when students never plagiarized or never cut a corner or two or never went to a fraternity file or never just downright cheated? When was this golden age when students were always prompt and never skipped class? When was this golden age when students constantly put their nose to the grindstone and put grease on their elbows and burnt the midnight oil? When was this golden age when students never had outside distracting personal problems? When was this golden age when students were always self-disciplined and responsible? When was this golden age when students always handed in their assignments on time? When was this golden age when students never offered excuses, explanations, or rationalizations. When was this golden age when grandparents did die on Fridays by the hoard? When was this golden age when getting an education wasn't about getting professional position and social status? When was this golden age when students never really cared if it was going to be on the test, but learned for the pure sake of learning. When was this golden age when WE faculty didn't emphasize the vocational or professional character of degrees? When was this golden age when no one in the academy cared about making a living. When was this golden age when students had the writing ability of a Hemmingway, the reasoning powers of an Aristotle, the oratorical talents of Pericles, and a saintliness of a Thoreau? When was this golden age when students didn't cram for a test just to pass the test and get a grade? When was this golden age when students were never disrespectful, disinterested, distracted, disenchanted, disgusted, and disengaged? When was this golden age when students had a fearless curiosity? When was this golden age when students didn't suck up to the professor, offer favors to the professor, didn't engage in cut-throat competition with each other? When was this golden age when students preferred cracking a book to cracking a keg. When was this golden age when students never had financial burdens, when they never took out loans, and never worked their way through school. When was this golden age when students left "their baggage" at the edge of the campus? When was this golden age when students didn't goof around swallowing goldfish or wearing raccoon coats or cramming into telephone booths and volkswagons or going on panty raids or having priorities other than scholarly pursuits? When was this golden age when students didn't have eating clubs, drinking clubs, fraternities, and other social communities; when there was no hazing and no riotous parties and no drunken orgies? When was this golden age when sports were not an integral--and often distracting--part of college life? When was this golden age when students went to college out a deep love of learning and were looking only to live the noble life; when was this golden age inhabited only by paragons of intellectual virtue who saw higher education as an exercise in pure, free intellectualization; when was this golden age when students' most cherished memories, deepest friendships, life-altering experiences emanated from classroom academics? When was this golden age, where was this academic heaven on earth, when students were divinely perfect?
When was this golden age when professors were divinely perfect, when they were paragons of intellectual and moral virtue, above the quest for position and prestige and renown and .....?
Tell me, where and when was this golden age?
It must have been long, long, long time ago, before my sixty-one years on earth, because it wasn't on my watch either as a k-12 schoolboy, as an undergraduate, as a graduate, or as a faculty member.
Make it a good day. --Louis-- Louis Schmier firstname.lastname@example.org Department of History www.therandomthoughts.com Valdosta State University www.halcyon.com/arborhts/louis.html Valdosta, GA 31698 /~\ /\ /\ 912-333-5947 /^\ / \ / /~\ \ /~\__/\ / \__/ \/ / /\ /~\/ \ /\/\-/ /^\_____\____________/__/_______/^\ -_~ / "If you want to climb mountains, \ /^\ _ _ / don't practice on mole hills" - \____