No doubt these phones are taking a toll on our attention spans, but--there may not be a delicate way to bring this up--are you sure your teaching hasn't gone downhill?. . . I've seen attention spans compact to a meth-addled gnat's size in the 36 years I've been teaching college English. Most of my current students cannot even visually focus on, much less think about, anything for more than 10 seconds. If that. If they even come to class. They're so jaded, frayed, exhausted from addicting themselves to constant sensation-seeking/phone-checking that if something in their self-interest requires a bit of work, their selves have already lost interest. It's shocking. Like a downward spiral deciding to jump off a sudden cliff with barely a shrug.
If I see Mr. D. again, it would have to be at a no-one-younger-than-40-allowed venue. Or I'd have to be in the first row, where I might be able to ignore the bubbles of bent little mirrors yabbering around me.
Some technologies are as toxic as some (very missing) values are....
Short answer, yes--and no.No doubt these phones are taking a toll on our attention spans, but--there may not be a delicate way to bring this up--are you sure your teaching hasn't gone downhill?
I'm in my mid-40s, so I've been out of school for quite a while, but I still remember a few embittered professors that seemed frustrated that the lectures they'd written in the 1970s no longer seemed to captivate us. They seemed to be running the clock down into retirement. But I had other profs toward the ends of their careers that kept it sharp, new, and challenging, for them and for us. And yes, then in the 1990s, we were stupid, inarticulate, lazy, and selfish, like 18-22 year-olds have been and always will be in the eyes of their elders.
My samples are different than yours, but the law students and recent grads interviewing with me the last few years are the brightest I've ever seen. And my teenage kids and their friends are smarter than I ever was at their age.
Dr Mrs Daddy teaches history at a local university. Apart from one or two students who will always do well, the rest are melts. You'd think with the cost of education, students would take it and themselves more seriously.Short answer, yes--and no.
Yes in that I update all that seems to need it or could benefit from that, relentlessly.
No in that many needed skills don't much vary over time.
And also No in the sense that I can accommodate their...issues only so far before I cross the line into enabling self-stunting. And that, of course, I can't do. (Which is not to say you were suggesting that.)
Coming to class, paying attention, doing the clearly stipulated and demonstrated work, using the provided resources/links/exercises/sample quizzes/papers/exams, asking any question about any issue that's puzzling or intriguing, commenting in any way even faintly relevant to our focus and goals, exploiting extensive office hours whenever one needs to--these are the students' responsibilities. I'm plenty vivid, adaptable, eclectic, etc., in and regarding our classes and course. I analogize both systematically and as each situation proves to require, I use self-mockery to help students get around the defensiveness that can block constructive criticism, I let us wander into tangents when we need a brain break, etc. But I can't give points for work undone, work shabbily done, classes missed, classes wasted with endless phone checking, etc.
It's a two-way street, of course. The road signs are all there, but I can't force anyone to make forward progress.
Please note that I elsewhere acknowledged, and said that I feel honored to work with, the shrinking % of students who want to and can learn. It's the growing mass of unable or unwilling students, including those so blithely defeating their own opportunities, that baffle and frustrate me. And concern me for our culture's future. A lot of systemic problems collide here: the fact that we've repeatedly dumbed down SAT's and now often set aside such tests entirely, inflated high school and college grades, writing and reasoning skills tests dropped from entrance metrics or allowed to slip into slop (https://demmelearning.com/college-level-writing/) or gunked in dogma--no wonder "Whatever" is the go-to student setting.
I agree 100% with what you say, but I have to confess when I was at University.....fifty years ago.....I could be an inattentive and lackadaisical student. If you look at my transcripts, I had all A's and B's in my music and English courses (my major and principle interests) and C's, D's, and even Fail in many other subjects. Yes, I wish I had been more serious about my work......but can't go back.Dr Mrs Daddy teaches history at a local university. Apart from one or two students who will always do well, the rest are melts. You'd think with the cost of education, students would take it and themselves more seriously.
But there are also other forms of music.There are very few rock bands I've seen where the music wouldn't have completely drowned out any talking. In fact, talking was all but impossible at most rock shows I've seen. You have to yell into the person's ear, and they still can't tell what you're saying. Rock music should be loud. That's the solution.