I apologise beforehand that this is a slightly ranty post moaning about the youth of today, though I hasten to add I am talking about a select minority.
In my HE establishment, the exam season is in full swing. This is the time when the academic sheep are separated from the goats. It is a time of emails asking for information that has been published on our website for weeks, information such as: Hi teacher, I'm Jose/María, "Where/When do I take my exam?" "Can you tell me what is in the exam?" &c. &c. &c. And, most egregious of all: "I'm not sure if you're my teacher, because I haven't been to class, but could you please email me all of the extra materials that you've handed out during the course?".
Often such enquiries don't include the student's level or group number. I know that teachers are supposed to be omniscient creatures, but to know who Jose (Er.PepeLu.Sevillista@tontodelculo.com - an invented address, I hope!) might be is beyond even our Holmesian powers.
And then there are the exams themselves where students point out that the exam contains mistakes; that it is impossible to place only one word in such and such a gap; they ask which is the correct answer in number 16 and a long list of other doubts.
Some turn up to university exams with their mums! Others arrive without writing materials. Having commented my disquiet at being a teacher in a kindergarten for young adults to several secondary school teachers, they have looked at me pityingly and asked me if I think that they don't have the same problems
As mentioned above, quite a few students seem unable to find information on our website - or even the website itself. How is such a thing possible in a society where everone, both young and old, have a smartphone, Facebook and Twitter accounts and are able to illegally download music, films, TV programmes, &c.? The answer I fear is twofold. Firstly they are too lazy/uninterested to find this information by themselves and, more worryingly, our society in increasingly infantile.
We, and our children, are being reduced to a state of total dependence on others by the dazzling array of apps available. Our capacity to think for ourselves and take the initiative is being undermined by the fact that it is easier to offload such tasks to small pocket-held devices. It is obviously more convenient to use a calculator instead of dividing 4,356,798 by 17. Indeed, that's how I do it. But, like the consipated mathematician, I also know how to work it out with a pencil and a piece of paper. Unfortunately, young people don't.
Not too long ago I had a rather bizarre conversation with a 25-year-old student who told me about her recent visit to Disneyland. She enjoyed it hugely. I asked her, in ironc tones, if she had got Mickey Mouse's autograph. To my surprise she went misty-eyed and told me that she had - and Minnie's and Donald's too! She really did believe that three French students, dressed in foam rubber, were the real characters.
Yet another example. Next time you're in a public place, observe the people - of all ages - drinking water or sports drinks from bottles. Count how many have screwtop bottles and how many have the sort with a pull top that let you suck from the bottle on the go. All very convenient, but take pause; they are literally sucking at the teat! How infantile is that? I despair.
O tempore! O mores.