Yesterday, Stacey over at Say Something Stacey answered a reader's question about what her pet peeves are and asked folks to add theirs in the comments. I commented that I'm bothered by people with no personal accountability - the ones who complain and complain but then do nothing to change their circumstances. This plus a Tweet of mine led to a Twitter mini-convo about students who don't have any initiative.
Stacey joked that they're lazy, and I have to say that I wish it was that simple. My theory is that the current crop of college students have just been hand-held too much (and I don't mean that literally - I don't want a score of attachment parenting folks after me). They haven't been taught personal responsibility. I would never ask a professor when a paper is due unless the due date was missing from the syllabus. However, I have students ask me that all the time. I tell them to look on the syllabus, but my friend David stated he simply doesn't even answer those questions anymore. I'm not there yet, but give me a few years and I might be.
As it is, if a student is absent and asks me "if" they "missed anything", I tell them, "No, we actually all just sat around and talked about how we missed you. We couldn't carry on without you." They usually get the idea that missing class always means missing something and that I'm not the person to ask for that information. It seems seriously ballsy to me to ask if there was anything to miss, as if every now and then we have a class session that amounts to nothing. That's simply insulting.
I'm just not into hand-holding and I'm not into having to tell people things twice. I hate having to repeat myself, whether it be to my students, my husband, or my mother. It just drives me bonkers (Stacey: I guess you can add that to my list of pet peeves).
There's a lot to be said for personal initiative and accountability. Those skills (are they skills? attributes?) go a long way in both the working world and one's personal life. Most folks I know in the field of education bemoan "teaching to the test" and how it doesn't allow students to develop critical thinking skills. I think it also robs students of the opportunity to feel some responsibility for the knowledge they're attaining.
Instead, they know to show up and repeat some information rather than knowing how to carry one idea over to the next and build a deeper, nuanced understanding of whatever it is they're studying. They don't get to revel in the pride that comes from realizing you've not only learned something new, but built upon it and created a new understanding for yourself - and of yourself.