Saturday, January 18, 2014

Teaching to the Ten

Teaching to the Ten             
 1/15/2014 12:01:00 AM - Mike Adams

Dear CRM 381 Students:  Welcome back! I just wanted to write and let you know that the syllabus is up and running on the departmental web page. I have been instructed to direct you to the link rather than distribute individual copies. The university needs to save money on paper so the LGBTQIA Office can continue to offer orgasm awareness seminars and so the Women's Resource Center can continue to promote abortion. Remember kids, the more trees we save, the more babies we can kill!

 In addition to going over the syllabus on day one, I plan to introduce each one of you to my somewhat informal teaching philosophy. Actually, this will be the first time I ever make a statement of teaching philosophy, despite the fact that it is my twenty-first year to teach here at UNC-Wilmington. In a nutshell, that philosophy can be summarized in the phrase "twenty-seventy-ten." I'll explain it briefly, although I do plan to elaborate in class on Monday.

  Despite what Karl Marx says, there really are not just two kinds of people in this world. That's an oversimplification, although there are two types of communists - a) the ones who live off their more productive comrades and b) the dead ones. But when it comes to students, there are at least three distinct groups. They follow in order from the least pleasant to the most pleasant among you.

1. The Tweeny Twenty.

 2. The Sagacious Seventy.

3. The Tenacious Ten.

The first group, the Tweeny Twenty, derives its name from its character and its proportions. This is the group of students who, as the name implies, are woefully immature, to almost preadolescent proportions. Fortunately, they are only a minority - about twenty percent of the student population.

  The Tweeny Twenty somehow managed to get out of high school without having even a vague sense of what they want to accomplish in life. But they are able to go to college for a few years to explore their options because a) anyone can get into college these days, and b) anyone can get a government-backed loan to help pay for college these days. And so they go. What else is there to do?

  Having no clue what they are doing in college, they behave as clueless individuals do. They come and go from class as they please - arriving late and leaving early. They dress inappropriately as if they are coming from a bar or are heading to the beach. In short, they come to college for social reasons. To party. To meet a spouse. Or maybe to meet a "connection" or someone who will "hook them up" with a job upon graduation.

  I will do everything within my ability to drive these people out of the classroom before the drop date. That is my sincere promise to the other eighty percent of you.

  The second group, the Sagacious Seventy, also derives its name from its character and its proportions. This is the group of students who, as the name implies, are shrewder and more goal-oriented than the Tweeny Twenty. Fortunately - I only say "fortunately" because they are fairly well behaved and manageable - they are about seventy percent of the student population.

  Having some clue of what they are doing in college, they behave as rational individuals. They come to class pretty regularly and go through the motions in order to get their course credit. They have calculated that having a degree is better than not having a degree and that the amount they pay in student loans will be exceeded by the salary increase that accompanies having a college degree. Of course, many of these students have miscalculated and will never pay off their loans but that is another issue to be explored at a later date.

  In short, these students come to college to get credentialed. They know that employers want to see an applicant’s degree because that means they had the stick-to-it-ness to set a goal and follow through. They also know that it doesn't require much work to get their expensive degree so they divert study time toward work time. They take a part time job in order to keep their student loans down even if this means turning in sub-par work. They know their professors have come to expect sub-par work. Like most of our students, they are intelligent and keenly self-interested. They do the cost-benefit analysis and make a reasonable decision in a difficult situation that is becoming more difficult as college becomes more expensive.

  I will do everything within my ability to threaten these people into doing work that is only slightly sub-par, instead of clearly deficient. I know they are used to being given good grades for work that is clearly deficient. But I also know that they cannot risk failing my class. So I will threaten them and hopefully (through fear) motivate them to soar towards mediocrity in their academic work output. It's really the best I can hope for in an age of hyper-inflated hire (misspelling intentional) education.

The last group, the Tenacious Ten, also derives its name from its character and its proportions. This is the group of students who, as the name implies, are highly determined and persistent and cannot easily be distracted from their goals. Unfortunately, they are only about ten percent of the student population.

 The Tenacious Ten may well have good genes. I don't know for sure. But I do know that they usually had good parents who taught them good life lessons. Also, more than likely, they had good counselors in their schools or in the churches. And so they are focused and ready from day one.

 In short, the Tenacious Ten are here because they desire specific knowledge that will help them attain a specific goal. As a result, they have an intrinsic appreciation of the material I plan to teach throughout the semester. So there is no need to threaten or cajole or manipulate them into performing at expected levels. They just do it because they come to college having already gotten into the habit of doing it on their own.

This message is just my way of reminding you that when I talk about “our” class I am not talking about all thirty of you. I am talking to about three of you - those who constitute the Tenacious Ten percent. You are the only reason I am still teaching. I look forward to finding out who you are. I don't suspect it will take very long to identify you.

I hope this message finds you well. If you are in the Tweeny Twenty, I hope it scares the hell out of you – so much so that you drop the course. Otherwise, I will see you in class on Monday.

To read another article by Mike Adams, click here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I went from tweeny twenty to tenacious ten in 1 year. Going to Greendale high school where they expect perfect behavior and work 100% of the time. never paying any real attention to the material and learning was not interesting in that kind of environment. dropped out junior year and went to online school to finish. i now cannot stop reading writing learning anything i can to expand my horizons. I am a firm believer that currently the school system of 10% of us are the only ones who want to learn is unacceptable, 70% going through the motions means when graduation hits, they'll stop learning. At 24 or 22 years old. while the 10 % cant satisfy their minds with hours of research. one topic soon leads to 3 related Fields and 10 more after that. you started with cold war and ended with NSA whilst covering space, mars landing curious and opportunity, moon movement makes the oceans waves. Teachers could easily turn ten into 40% by teaching them how to learn without them. the result is a unquenchable thirst for knowledge and once you've got that the kid's will spread it to each other. the isolated 10% cant spark interest in the 70 if they don't interact. this society will never move forward if we don't teach true history, instead of twisting stories of past, teach them to question everything and verify through multiple sources. teachers now tell the kids what to believe so they'll always believe anything, cause that's what we were taught. i can see so many of us being lied to and manipulated.teach us not to believe teach us to find answers. u wonder why 90 percent of us cant keep up. We weren't taught how to learn! I didn't know what half of this meant when I dropped out with a .6 GPA from 6th-10th grade. I'm 18 and I see my generation and we are so ill equipped to become the future of this country.