Today I am sitting in lab, and of the six students remaining only two of them seem to be actually making any effort. I watch the two workers, and I am still frustrated by the increasing number of helpless slackers that seem to be an ever-increasing part of my labs.
Every semester I conduct problem-based learning exercises where I place students in groups of four to five. The general pattern for most groups seems to be three of the people in the group are (A) lazy, (B) clueless, (C) apathetic, or (D) all of the above. These slackers attempt to ride the coat tails of the more motivated students. I have tried implementing punishments for this behavior, but nothing I do seems to work. (I guess my only option is to walk around with a clipboard and mark them as participating or not participating.) What's worse, the students who are now in the class are asking me to help them design a procedure that they have already done in an earlier lab!
Is this a consequence of No Child Left Behind (click here for Dr. Moon's video on the subject)? Is this some sort of ludicrous trend in extended immaturity (If 30 is the new 20, then 20 is the new 10....)?
I am discouraged by this situation, but what is the alternative? I could let these young people continue to wallow in a sea of disengaged anesthesia, and I'm not so arrogant enough to think that I can truly open their eyes. Maybe they will finally grow up one day and demand more from their own children. By this time, hopefully, the next generation will learn from their parents' apathy.