Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Have students become more disrespectful; has their sense of entitlement grown?

I'm a long time reader of the Chronicle of Higher Ed and every once in a while it publishes an essay in which a university-level professor complains about some combination of the following:  1. Disrespectful students; 2. student entitlement; and 3. administrative pressure to treat students as customers. The reader comments, which are almost always interesting and informative, traditionally split between those teachers who sympathize with the sentiments expressed in the essay and those who suggest that any classroom behavioral issues might be attributable to the teacher.

Last week CHE published two more such essays, here and here. In the first, called "From Students, A Misplaced Sense of Entitlement," an adjunct complains about student rudeness, disrespect and an unwillingness to work to her expectations. In the second essay, called "An Adjunct Who Had Enough," a languages professor explains that he quit rather than cave to pressure, as he perceived it, to pander to student evaluations. What's interesting, though, is that as of this writing, the vast majority of reader comments (the relevant ones, anyway) express solidarity with these teachers rather than criticize them.

Which makes me wonder, has something changed in the classroom? Are students acting out more because of stress and pressure related to the poor job market? Is there more administrative pressure to treat students as consumers due to declining revenues resulting from decreasing applications?  Is the internet to blame? (which some believe is negatively affecting our personal interactions, here and here)  Or are the reader comments to the CHE stories merely expressing empathy for the authors and are not reflective of any larger trends? 

What do you think?



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