Ancient is much more recent than it used to be. Perhaps it has something to do with the two massive earthquakes over the last couple of years that have together sped the earth’s rotation by almost three microseconds. Perhaps. A more likely explanation is that excessive technology makes us soft. We expect new toys, new tech solutions on nearly a daily basis, and with the communications revolution, we are rarely disappointed. I wonder if we’ve forgotten how to help ourselves. This is especially evident in the lack of initiative I sense among many students. Of course, I am ancient.
When exam time rolls around, the present-day student requires a study guide. When I was a student, after dodging all the dinosaurs running around the campus, I never received a study guide for a test. If a test is coming, read, re-read, i.e., study, your notes. Maybe read a textbook? Nowadays a study guide is required for that message to be sent home. And then there’s the emails. Once the study guide is distributed (electronically, of course) the emails gush in asking what exactly I mean by this or that. Since I reiterated the point endlessly in class, accompanied by a PowerPoint slide with the answer writ large, verily, I roll my eyes and drop to my three-legged stool in dismay. Can it really be that college students require detailed answers in advance for a multiple-choice test of only 40 questions? Back in my day, a multiple-choice test was a gift that felt like sixth grade had rolled around again.
Time, since Einstein, has been relative. And since I am an antiquity, I can perhaps be forgiven for citing Supertramp’s “The Logical Song.” As a studious young man, religious from epidermis to viscera, I was sent off to get an education. Years later, kicked out of the academy for good behavior, I see the wisdom of the lackluster 70’s band: “But at night, when all the world’s asleep, the questions run so deep for such a simple man.” The lyrics are easily found on the Internet. It is simpler than walking over to the CD rack to check manually. Back in my day, I would never have even imagined skipping an exam and then asking the professor what he was going to do about it in the next class period. Email, in this instance, is easily forgotten. I’ll get back to you once I engage the electronic lock to keep out this velociraptor (if anyone can remember back to 1993).