Actually, my students’ final papers this spring have been pretty great overall. There’s the usual few who try to cite Wikipedia as a source and copy paragraphs out of the textbook, but most of them have done good solid work and some of them have even taught me something new.
I often use this comic as a place to complain, but here’s the honest truth: my students amaze me. They work incredibly hard, they ask good questions, and they learn. I don’t mean just that they memorize facts and spit them back at me with facility; I mean they learn. They take in the ideas that I teach them and turn them all around and inside-out, put them together in new forms, apply them in ways I never thought of, and discover things that even I didn’t know were there. And yes, sometimes they misunderstand the reading, or mess up their citation format, or need some extra help to get the point I wanted them to get, but that’s all a part of learning, too. And the most amazing thing is: they show up next class and do it all again.
I may sometimes give in to the temptation to shake my head and mutter “Kids these days!” when an 18-year-old fresh from high school fails to intuitively grasp some of the things that it took me a decade of advanced study to figure out, but far more often I walk away from class feeling uplifted by the thought that my future is in their hands. Learning to think about the world in a new way is one of the hardest jobs I know, and they do it every single day.
Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate it. May there be peace on Earth and good will towards college students. They’ve earned it.