A Nation of Wimps?

So, the department in which I work was told to give a state-mandated instructor evaluation outside of the departmentally-mandated evaluation, plus assessments required for the course.  This incident touched a nerve with other faculty in the department, and has provoked (a still on-going) discussion amongst my peers.  One book a colleague suggested was A Nation of Wimps.  I haven’t found the book, but Psychology Today had an article of the same name, which you can find here.

One aspect described by the article is the continuous stream of communication between a student and his / her parent via the cell phone, which the author describes as eternal umbilicus.  I found this section particularly interesting:

“What’s more, cell phones—along with the instant availability of cash and almost any consumer good your heart desires—promote fragility by weakening self-regulation. ‘You get used to things happening right away,’ says Carducci. You not only want the pizza now, you generalize that expectation to other domains, like friendship and intimate relationships. You become frustrated and impatient easily. You become unwilling to work out problems. And so relationships fail—perhaps the single most powerful experience leading to depression.”

Wow.  I find that to be so true in my relationships with my students.  If it doesn’t work right away, complain.  Instead of reasoning creatively or trying alternatives, e-mail the professor / advisor at 2 a.m., when said is fast asleep (or tries to be).  I don’t know how many “never mind” e-mails I’ve received just by simply sleeping (and thus, not responding as it if were a text) or by sitting on an e-mail for half a day (triage).  

What puzzles me is that I’m a part of the Millenial generation, too, and yet I don’t seem to experience all of these instances.  I will agree that the cell phone does cause me to make a lot of last-minute planning, but I temper that with having a ridiculously busy schedule, so I’m forced to plan (in a way).  

The article uses the term and concept of self-efficacy – do I have the power to do things on my own, and do I have the ability?  Are we robbing students of that efficacy by holding their hands?  Maybe.  I had an instance yesterday of a student telling me that he / she could not pass a certain course and needed an alternative.  I informed said student that he / she would need to take certain course.  He / she told me, “Well, I’m not intelligent enough to take this course.”  At that time, I took off my glasses (which means business, by the way) and shared about my time as a TRIO tutor, where I had students who had taken a particular prerequisite course for this course five different times before they could pass it.  Persistence pays, natch.

The sum of it all?  I pray that we have a generation that eventually turns around and steps up to be dynamic, creative leaders.  We have the potential and effort, but somehow we’ve become medicated by the society’s telling us, “You need all the help you can get to get ahead.  You can’t work from your own effort, but off of someone else’s.  What can you get someone else to do?”

Surviving and thriving depends on a reliance on God’s wisdom and power.  God will direct us in our paths if we ask, but then we’re to take the step forward!  What an opportunity…and a risk.  Let us be bold risk-takers today, taking steps as leaders – not sheep.

</end of rant>



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