Often we talk about the unrealistic expectations of students. The feeling is that they expect to get much with little effort. Over and over I hear all about the entitlement of the millennials. How they arrive expecting much and are unwilling to give much in return.
This may be true, but this is what they have been raised to do. Since the “No Child Left Behind” initiative began, teachers have been forced to teach to the test. Careers, schools and even entire districts and states have the success of the students riding on passing tests. Is it any wonder that the students today are having everything handed to them The system has been set up to ensure that the teachers work desperately to all but guarantee that no child will be left behind. What that means in real life is that teachers have to work harder than ever to give the students what they need – the right answers.
How is this teaching? How is this learning?
The worst part of it is that higher education reinforces this. The entire system is built on passing students and the best way to do that is to give them the right answers. In higher education, it is even easier than in primary or secondary school. Since we write our own tests, we can prepare the students perfectly. It may not be on purpose, but that is what happens.
Most students find that they can pass tests with nothing more than PowerPoint handouts. In fact, many of the students report that they can get an ‘A’ in a class with nothing more than their PowerPoint slides. Since we write the tests, we can also ensure that we provide them with the answers. The students report that even the classes where the test questions are “open-ended” questions, they can comfortably pass with nothing more than what the slides provide them.
The students come to higher education feeling entitled and then that feeling is reinforced by what they are asked to do. When they finish, they feel entitled to a job, because that is what they have been promised since they were small.
How is that any different from the rest of us? We were told that if we went to university, worked (memorized) hard and got a degree, we would get a good job. It worked for us, why not for them?
The sad part is that the students are just doing exactly what we ask of them.