I have a difficult time watching the video Michael Wesch’s students put together titled “A Vision of Students Today.” Why I find it difficult to watch is because reading statements like “I Facebook through most of my classes” and “I spend 3 ½ hours a day online” make it seem as if the students saying these things are not holding themselves accountable for their own education. To me, these quotes make it sound like they are blaming some other entity for the time they spend online and/or facebooking, which is a sentiment I do not sympathize with and find very concerning for future student generations. It would be fantastic if I could understand the importance of everything presented to me in a classroom setting without having to think about it. In reality, though, what is needed from us, as students, are the desire and enthusiasm to find how and why what we are learning pertains to our lives, which can require more function than just listening to the words spoken to us. This view on learning makes me anxious because if future students keep on following this trend of putting all of the emphasis on the educator to spoon feed every detail to feel as if they are learning something then I will fear for future students’ abilities to critically think on their own and realize that truly the only person responsible for one’s education is themselves. That is not to give teachers a free pass to not try, but I bring that point up to emphasize that if we want to learn something it is up to us to learn it! Nobody became a great thinker by relying on someone else to tell them what, how, and why to think. Great teachers probably inspired them, but the student had to do most of the work on their own.
That being said, I do agree with Dr. Wesch that teachers have a major role in cultivating a learning environment that promotes critical thinking; an activity lacking in many classrooms today. Dr. Wesch’s article, “Anti-Teaching: Confronting the Crisis of Significance,” brings up the notion of a non-stimulatory, ineffective education system that fails to produce students that can produce original, creative, meaningful questions, which is absolutely true. I have been in a few classes that reward memorization and regurgitation of words without much emphasis on critical thinking and it is fair to say I barely remember anything from those courses. The courses I remember well are the ones where teachers were engaging and promoted discussion on the subjects at hand. The reason I am still in school today (and love learning in general) is due to teachers/professors who challenged us to participate in discussion during class and to come prepared with talking points/questions that we generated between classes. I think it is fair to say, though, that most of my professors in recent years really wanted us to be engaged and wanted to promote a friendly, supportive learning environment, but where they fell short was the implementation of that environment. This point is exactly what Dr. Wesch is talking about in reference to the medium being more important than the message. Promoting a different style of learning other than just lecturing at students from a chalkboard is a wonderful idea and I hope successful alternatives become more standard throughout education in the future.
I would not begin to say that I have the answers for how to fix the lack of enthusiasm that seems so pervasive in our education system, but I feel there needs to be work put in from both sides, teachers and students, in order to make it a meaningful experience for everyone. The point that teachers bear a large responsibility to create a great environment that supports the success of their students’ learning is true, but I feel that is just one side of the story. The other side of the story is the large responsibility that students should bear as well to hold themselves accountable for their learning and to not give up because they feel they would rather be on facebook.