A Second Anecdote – The Drama of the Apathetic

The “pursuit of happiness” isn’t mindless partying – at which my students are experts – but a life of productivity and energy, of fulfilling the potentials of the talents with which each is entrusted, as the Biblical parable goes. Does anyone think that the young man of the post below is fulfilling his potential? This is the right our society should give – to become not merely to be.

This semester I have a few students who don’t hand in work but attend with sufficient regularity that I don’t/can’t drop them. I don’t know what they are doing there. One student e-mailed me from the on-line class, terrified I’d drop her. She could, she said, afford an F; it was being dropped that worried her. So she has continued to mark herself as present each day on-line and not send me any work at all. She has her reasons. She wants to “be” a student – she doesn’t want to “become” one. Maybe she can “afford” it more easily because she doesn’t intend to build on her grades in a junior college but simply say she attended. Maybe she can “afford” it because she isn’t paying for it anyway.

She, like some of my on-site students, acts out a little drama in which they “are” students. This, like too much today, may be cargo cult thinking: hanging around our campus (virtual or real) means their wages will dramatically improve. Perhaps they believe the inflated values our politicians and educators place on college degrees; perhaps they are smart enough to suspect it isn’t the piece of paper but college that will make a difference. They just don’t know what “college” is. Or not. I suspect they are scamming someone – their parents, their government, their insurance companies, or, in some co-enrolled cases, their principals. Take your pick. But I’m wary of being a participant in these dramas, assigned a role they define as “teacher.” I didn’t sign up for some role in a con game.

5 thoughts on “A Second Anecdote – The Drama of the Apathetic”

  1. “She could, she said, afford an F; it was being dropped that worried her.” Sounds to me that she can afford the F so she can blame it on you (to her parents or whoever). My fifth grade daughter just tried this on me and the wife with zero success.

    I ended up college with an a/b average, and that was partying like a rock star (what I now call an idiot). I kick myself every once in a while for not studying harder and getting 100% across the board, which is what I plan on doing when I go back to school eventually.

    I did have a good time though, that I must admit.

  2. This, like too much today, may be cargo cult thinking.

    the “education” establishment is in a slow collapse as money spent for it has breached the money made from it point. that and credentialism is just unionism for white collar folks.

  3. They just don’t know what “college” is.

    they don’t know what be education is. 12 years of propaganda is not “education.

  4. It takes a while to learn the difference between pleasure and satisfaction. Pleasure is well and good but fleeting. Satisfaction often is painfully acquired but is enduring. Happiness over a lifetime requires satisfaction – pleasure is just the frosting on the cake, the jelly on your bagel.

  5. Your comments bring to mind a sad, or tragic, depending on your point of view event that happened here in Sugar Land, TX a couple of years ago. A family came home one evening and was met at the door by a son who killed several of the other family members. He was to graduate from a local college, supposedly with honors in a few days. The truth- he had not been to attending school during the 4 years he told his parents he was doing so well and taking $ from Dad, if my memory is correct he had about 6 total college credits. The boy was convicted, don’t remember the sentence, think it was life. Is this indicative of where society has come to in the last generation?

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