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Paperback Generation X Goes to College: An Eye-Opening Account of Teaching in Postmodern America Book

ISBN: 0812693140

ISBN13: 9780812693140

Generation X Goes to College: An Eye-Opening Account of Teaching in Postmodern America

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Book Overview

This is an incredible, amusing, horrifying, yet true story, in which all names have been changed to protect the guilty.It tells how the author, a journalist turned college professor, came face to face... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A must-read for professors, TAs and staff members!

One of my coworkers and friends lent me this book, and it blew me away. Our department was made up of four Gen-Xers and several baby boomers - so we were coping with "Gen Y", not Gen X. I recognize some of these characters from my own college follies (one of my favorite professors was considered "arrogant" because he demanded such things of students as reading the NY Times and watching the news regularly!)... yet agree with other reviews that the poor attention spans and consumerist attitudes have only gotten worse. I blame SpongeBob. I wonder if there's something else going on besides what Sacks writes about - with this idea of the "quarter century crisis", perhaps adolescence and its ambivalence and passive-aggressiveness, is lasting longer. The persistently bad economy isn't promising students anything great after graduation - at least Gen Xers had the world and the raging Dow to motivate them. Meanwhile, this "grade inflation" is not starting in college - it's going back to high school and earlier. If the state of Wisconsin can happily inflate how well their educational system is doing, how morally hard is it to coach kids to do well on the California Achievement Test or PSAT? Meanwhile, high school students in Europe and Great Britain are graduating with two years more experience and knowledge than American kids the same age and "rank". Postmodernist thinking has definitely chipped away at the idea of reverence for elders, leaders or experts. It's also hurt these kids' sense of their own capabilities and weaknesses. When everyone is considered "special," but in a bland sort of way, like a preschool video game where "everyone is a winner," why wouldn't teenagers only do enough to "get by" and then still expect A grades? Meanwhile, deep down, these kids know that they have yet to be really tested, or challenged - and while some of them go on to relish learning, others avoid facing their own inadequacies. You *must* face your inadequacies and take chances (whether you win or screw up) to grow! And if the school systems and colleges aren't making them face facts, and really learn - wow, just consider what sort of graduates we're feeding into every sector of society, from government to corporate America. Over and over, I was shocked to see students at a so-called "socially progressive" school (it wasn't Antioch, but you get the drift) avoid taking on any real responsibility or burden for positive social change. Students would whine about the lack of action in the classroom or on campus, then back down when challenged or encouraged to use the resources at their disposal! Students would "talk the talk" but shirk responsibility or creative risk-taking, and that was saddest of all - if you can't take chances in college, and expand your academic and social boundaries, where else will you do it?

Mr. Sacks blames wrong party for poor quality

I read with great interest, "Generation X goes to College." Having been recently downsized from a job, I thought that I would return to college and acquire skills that would be useful in a future job hunt. FAT CHANCE!!!Never before has the adage "College education is something that people are willing to pay for and not get" rang true. The reaer from San Diego is right on the money. I wish that San Diego would write a book. The tenured faculty the people responsible for the "dumbing down" and frankly, they don't care.Instead, I got teachers who frequently did't come to class, did personal business in class on class time, and often did not keep posted office hours.I hope the reader in San Diego does write a book. A book that escribes how easy full-time faculty have it, and how little they do to deserve it. The taxpayers would revoult.I had teachers who would never read my papers and would just put an "A" at the top of the paper. I took foreign language classes and never had oral practice, and for this, I have a 4.0 GPA.The students and taxpayers are the biggest losers of this scandal called "education."

Education is a Two-Way Street

As a adjunct instructor in the humanities, I found the book to be right on target. Sacks' description of student behavior matches with what I have experienced at a major state university and two community colleges. Growing numbers of students are rude and inconsiderate. Consumerism, as Sacks points out, is running rampant in higher education. Pay money, get a degree. In fact, I know of several deans and other adminstrators who have said that the number one job of colleges is keeping the customer satisfied. Of course, earning a college education cannot work this way. The most striking thing about the book's description is that the general student apathy which Sacks reports is pervasive: from community colleges to large state universities to private colleges. Of course, Sacks's observations, taken by themselves, are merely anecdotal. But when dozens, if not hundreds, of instructors report similar behavior (as I read and heard from other instructors), it illustrates that something is truly wrong. Instructors who give in to inflated grades, low standards, and multiple-choice exams (and I know many who do) are also to blame. If Orwell's 1984 is too difficult for college freshmen, then something is wrong in the high schools. (I remember reading it in 8th grade)To dismiss Sacks' observations as mere stereotypes simply misses his main points: 1) Not everyone has a right to a college degree (it must be earned) 2) Education institutions should not be run like fast food restaurants (learning how to think critically is not like buying a Big Mac).

Should be required reading for every college administrator

Like the author, I teach at a subsidized, (more or less) open-enrollment school, where likewise I have encountered an increasingly consumerist mentality among students. They register for courses and expect grades in return. They evaluate us anonymously with no redress possible; we, on the other hand, are subject to challenge at every juncture. Like the author, I have done well by being a crowd-pleaser, and fortunately have achieved considerable seniority plus a credible record in my field, to the point where I can express my views openly--a privilege denied many of my junior colleagues. If state legislators, chancellors, campus presidents, and faculty committees want so-called higher education to continue on its present path toward oblivion, then they only have to stick to the status quo--it's working. If, on the other hand, they want to put some meaning behind their glorious pronouncements about the impending, new century, then the best thing they can do is turn the process back on its right side. Reading this book might give them some inspiration in that direction.Incidentally, what drew me to this book was a sympathetic review in _Thought and Action_, the higher-ed journal of the National Education Association, which is hardly a bastion of conservative thought.

A must-read for anyone concerned about higher education!

Everyone with an interest in the present and future of higher education in America will find this book to be at least interesting, and for many, dismaying and perhaps frightening. Most college teachers, I think, will find many things to which they can relate. I found the chronicle of Sacks's college teaching experience so similar to the kinds of things I have experienced as an educator that I couldn't put the book down. The first part of the book is a tale of Sacks's experience teaching journalism at "a large suburban community college in the West," which he refers to only as "The College." Prior to being hired there, he was a Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist. For various reasons, he had doubts about his future in that profession, and when a teaching job presented itself, he decided to give it a try. Whatever ideals he had about the teaching profession were quickly replaced by "confusion and bewilderment" brought on by the behavior and attitudes of Generation X students. Sacks began teaching with the assumptions that students would read the assigned material, take notes, attend class, and turn assignments in on time. He also assumed that "C" represented average work. He very quickly learned that not only were these assumptions unfounded, but that in order to achieve tenure, he would have to play a different game. He came to realize that what these students wanted, for the most part, was to be entertained rather than educated. And that they believed that just by paying tuition they were entitled to a grade of "B" or higher whether or not they did any significant work. If these conditions were not met, he would receive negative student evaluations. And student evaluations were the main evidence cited in tenure decisions. In discussions with colleagues he discovered that there was tacit agreement that this was the prevalent situation on campus, and that if he wanted to succeed as a teacher his student evaluations would have to improve. He was constantly admonished to "teach to the evaluations." When he changed his methods to become more entertaining (described in a chapter called "The Sandbox Experiment"), and in particular when he inflated his grades to a B, rather than a C, average, his evaluations improved dramatically. Along the way, he encountered (either in his own classes or those of colleagues) students who asked such questions as "Do we have to read the text?" and "Why are colleges trying to force this stuff down our throats and trying to make us think when our minds and opinions are already formed?" He gradually came to see that a vicious circle existed: high academic standards meant higher attrition rates which meant budget cuts which meant loss of faculty jobs. The key to success was to ward off student failure in any way that worked. Part 2 of the book is a more general discussion of the relation between higher education and the phenomenon of postmodernism. Sacks is quick to point out that he is not an expert in the p
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