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Students of Today May 24, 2009

Posted by mervatabuelkheir in Faculty Life.
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Let’s say hypothetically that a TA does this:
The students in his class ask him every week to hold the course textbook, read the chapter they took in the lecture page by page, explaining everything, and they can stop him ocassionaly if he skipped a paragraph or something.
Will this be right or wrong?
I’ve noticed that most of the students (with fewer and fewer exceptions over time) developed a tendency along the years to not work their heads in search for explanations and answers in the different courses they take at college, and I dare say this is a general phenomena among most faculties in Egypt. Most students want every single thing explained to them and want the minimum curricula possible to study, with no desire to explore for themselves to to ask for more to learn. They keep whining and whining if a professor told them to self-study a chapter or two, and they can’t efficiently summarize a chapter to pinpoint the important notes that can trigger questions. In short, most students of higher education in universities do not want to understand as much as they want to succeed.
I argue that this is the result of a screwed up high school system that has a frantic atmosphere of “you must succeed and get the highest grades” forcing the students to memorize and save time by going to teachers who tell them exactly what to say in response to each and every possible question in the final exams. This generation of “auto-response” students, which began around the nineties, carried his culture to the university life, which is a place to learn, discuss, analyze, and understand. This was translated into a higher rate of private tutoring that aims at helping the students memorize the answers to what the professors tend to ask at university exams. This in turn resulted in killing the abilities that are needed in academic life, abilities such as scientific reasoning, analysis, comprehension, and creative thinking. Students cannot write a research task if asked, the majority looks at postgraduate studies as a way to waste time waiting for bigger chances, which is ironic because I believe a good planning of postgraduate studies is one of the ways to get bigger chances at professional careers. The funny thing is these postgraduate students will succeed and get to do their Master and Doctorate studies using pretty much the same methodology.
An 18 years old student should be able to understand by himself most of the content of an academic course and be able to intelligently ask questions about the parts he or she does not get right or feel ambiguous in order to gain a clearer understanding. I don’t see this happening, and this will result (if this is not already the case) in academics who do not want to make a correct scientific research and will easily resort to forged research to get higher positions.