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September 12, 2005

At last the Dodo said

The unedifying spectacle of the self-esteem generation making their lemming plunge into employment has begun. I watched a 60 Minutes piece on the "echo" generation as they find their way through college. Yes, this is a cohort who almost uniformly expect to be rewarded for participation and not for achievement, who have never driven a car without a seat-belt and who have enormous difficulty in situations without flashing lights, positive feedback and all their decisions made for them. "Everyone is above average in our generation," observed Columbia University's student newspaper editor, oblivious to the meaning of the word "average".

"Everyone is above average in our generation," says Summers.

"Everybody gets a trophy at the end of the year. It's something you're used to," adds Gissing. "And you have the rows of trophies lined up on your windowsill, or whatever."

I have met exceptional students. Unfortunately, I have had little opportunity to recognize, let alone encourage, them for all the time lost to defending below average grades for papers written by students who have not bothered to address the assignment. In fact, some could not be bothered to spell my name correctly. It is only a question of time before a BA is considered a waste of time and an impediment to employment. Perhaps at the point the steaming wreckage of higher education can be rebuilt by people who are actually there to learn something.

At last the Dodo said, "EVERYBODY has won, and all must have prizes."

Posted by Ghost of a flea at September 12, 2005 08:41 AM

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Reminds me of when I started college in 1990. The student food-service jobs in the cafeteria were all taken within days.

Only a few years later, the same jobs went unfilled the entire year. Yet I heard underclassmen I knew complain about not having money. But they would look horrified if I pointed out the open jobs. I heard the condescending line "I would never work in food service" more than once.

Posted by: JohnAnnArbor [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 12, 2005 11:58 AM

I had no idea the echo was in such bad shape. I consider myself a celebrity slacker, an icon of my generation - yet I had three jobs in undergrad and as well in law school. I did the last degree while working full time with a family. I only borrowed a couple thousand bucks off my parents through three university degrees as I did not want to look them in the face to tell them that, yes, their savings went to the owners of the taverns of Halifax. Sure, they were McJobs back then but I was a student for God's sake, a McWorker working to get past them by going through them. It's ok to be a slacker when you earn it.

Posted by: Alan McLeod [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 12, 2005 12:21 PM