Now I am going to give back one of those exams, on which once again every one has made, essentially, either an A or an F. It is depressing. People with F’s will, as usual, have a great deal to say about how it is the fault of the textbook or other materials, or my fault. Their “learning styles,” which are sacrosanct, have prevented them from being able to absorb this particular material.
Since I cannot imagine being in school and not studying at all, and trying to get away with it by being disingenuous, I am willing to entertain the idea that they are disabled, need help, and so on, and that I am just so educationally privileged that I cannot understand their problems. Earnestly I try to give as much latitude as I can, recommend tutors, insist they actually get tested for their disabilities and be placed in programs which will help them learn how to learn. Finally I discover that it is simply that they do not study. I think that once again I am allowing myself to be abused.
It is odd to me how, rather than admit they do not study, these students are willing to make speeches which come down in essence to saying, “I am very deeply learning disabled and perhaps also mentally retarded – seriously enough so that I should really be in a training program for a routine trade requiring no analysis or thought of any kind.” These people by their own admission would not be competent to run, say, a lawn care service, since this does involve some planning and thought. I have described them to my neighbor the Marine.
He has a small trucking business on the side and he says many of the people he employs are similar to these students: dependent. They do not read, so they cannot read maps or directions, so they can only be sent to places they have been before. They do not do arithmetic, so they cannot figure out whether the cash they have is enough to buy the amount of gasoline they need.
The man in the paint store says he has found he needs college graduates to work as clerks because college students do not have the requisite arithmetical skills. So I am not alone in this problem, but I feel very lonely in it since this is supposed to be a university. One can extrapolate from this situation, however, why the country is as it is and why it reproduces what it does.