The College Student's Dwindling Thirst For Knowledge Discussed In Rebekah Nathan's Article, "Academically Speaking.."

1196 words - 5 pages

"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education" (Albert Einstein). Today, college classes are furthest from the minds of the very students enrolled in them; their curiosity and thirst for knowledge is dwindling. There is more importance placed on the interactions, parties, and other dorm life experiences than the degree needed for a successful career. In Rebekah Nathan's article, "Academically Speaking.." she explores the apathy that students feel towards college classes and suggests that the current structure places too much emphasis on personal experience. This system affords too much freedom to students by allowing them to decide what information is most relevant. Nathan voices many valid concerns surrounding the notion that classes are not as important as they once were. She correctly fears that the devolution of college's traditional learning ambition leads to a loss of class participation, preparation, and ultimately matriculation.

Nathan performed many observational studies that compelled her to voice the disparity between the formal and informal areas of college life. The "undergraduate worldview" (112) is composed of an in-class, intellectual side that goes vastly unnoticed beside the behemoth that entails living in an environment filled with thousands of young adults. The partying, dorm life, and other non-school sanctioned aspects of living in unsupervised quarters encompass both a student’s time and mental capacities. She found that a majority of conversations surrounded topics of sports, the opposite sex, and TV shows. They find solace in the communal suffrage of going to class and seldom discuss how difficult classes can be. This demeans the intellectual side of college by turning the topic against class discussion and thought provoking studies. She sums up this idea by saying “that engagement in the philosophical and political part issues of the day was not a significant part of college student culture.”(112) Students no longer actively pursue the academic aspects of their college life; this can only lead to a diminishing effort.

This lack of desire surfaces in the classroom in the form of scarce participation. With a light-hearted attitude, Nathan performs a social experiment that asks students to select a person who is a ‘witch’. Unsurprising to the professor, students converge upon the individuals who are bright and outspoken pupils. These people naturally stand out because of the “unconscious norms of classroom behavior that focus… on the importance of being the same as other students.” (105) Students would blend in rather than risk being seen as an outcast among their peers. This strategy compromises the student’s ability to ask either a thought provoking or clarifying question. Being an invisible, unnoticed member of the class undermines the teacher’s techniques by creating a tense environment. The professor can not know if everything he says is well understood because no one is willing to stand out and...

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