It is all up to you! “I didn’t ask to be here,” “It doesn’t really matter,” or “It depends on my teachers, not me,” are some typical comments that assist, support, and excuse students from their responsibility as students. Of course, there are many other excuses, but they all come down to one essential idea: “I am not responsible for my life.”
The excuse, “I didn’t ask to be here,” is a reason that can license any behavior or activity. It is an excuse that says, basically, I do not have to worry or be concerned about my life. It is my parents’ fault, not mine.
The easy counter to such an excuse is much like the one used by those who question our presence in Iraq. They dispose of any discussion of Iraq by saying, “We shouldn’t be there in the first place.” The problem is that such a comment is irrelevant: we’re there! The question is, what should we do now? The clear question to those who use this excuse is: “Okay, you’re here, so what are you going to do about it?” When you stop blaming, you start gaining.
The second excuse, “It doesn’t really matter,” assumes that the first excuse has been resolved. It is easy to look at life and think of yourself, your life, and all that you do as insignificant, meaningless and inconsequential: “I’m just one unimportant cog in a giant machine that I can neither see nor understand. The world is just too big, and I am but an ant in a colony of thousands or even millions of ants — going nowhere, doing all sorts of work, and seemingly (from all human appearances) aimless and purposeless.
Fortunately, this excuse can be directly countered with evidence. Whether it is the value of a college experience (or any educational opportunity), the contribution that a single individual can make to society, or the value that purpose, direction, and goals can play in your personal life, all demonstrate with startling clarity, that life matters and that each single life can matter highly.
With just a slight attitude adjustment — the realization that “I am in charge of my life” — the results can be an important quality: that if I just take some time to look at where I’ve been, where I am now, and where I would like to go, I can begin to find order in the chaos, direction in the disorganization, and certainty in the confusion. It all depends on me!
The third excuse, “It depends on my teachers, not me,” often is trumpeted as a reason for disinterest, detachment, and boredom. There is no question that there are boring teachers in this world. Anyone involved in education knows this, and it is too bad. But, with a slight attitude adjustment, as mentioned above, students can achieve at new heights, discover new horizons, and come up with new truths. Teachers are not responsible for how much students learn! Learning occurs in students, and anything in this world can be a stimulus, a prompt, or an inspiration. Teachers are but one, textbooks are another, but there are other students, television, the Internet, the whole educational experience, and a whole world full of ideas to explore.
Here is the point: students are totally and completely responsible for any learning that occurs, and there is no situation in life that is devoid of opportunities to learn and discover. Even though teachers may be disorganized, drone on in sleep-inducing monotones, cover material you have already read in the textbook, or offer no questions or challenges of any kind, it doesn’t mean that learning cannot occur. It takes a vigilant, attentive, perceptive, and observant student to create meaning, produce substance, and develop something worthwhile. But, it can be done.
If students stop viewing their role in the process of instruction as a passive vessel just waiting to be filled and, instead, view their role as an active, involved, committed, and devoted participant in the process who is there as a sponge just waiting to assimilate, integrate, and appropriate information, the process of instruction becomes an active one that is alive with possibilities and potentials. Learning is a process of looking for information much as a detective looks for cues.
“I didn’t ask to be here,” “It really doesn’t matter,” and “It depends on my teachers not me,” are vacant, superfluous, trite excuses that hold no water. You may think they free you from responsibility, and they may, indeed, offer some momentary freedom for pleasure-seeking, self-gratification, and high living, but each one will come back to bite you where it hurts the most. That is, you will pay dearly in the future for your momentary hedonism. Drop the excuses, change your attitude, and recognize that it’s all up to you!
From the web site http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2248/is_n109_v28/ai_13885868 at Bnet (Business Network) read the terrific essay, “Student Responsibility for Learning,” from Charles S. Bacon. He reports, “The present study was an effort to better understand student perspectives on responsibility for learning as suggested by the distinction between being responsible and being held responsible.” It’s a sophisticated essay, but it is both interesting and illuminating.
The essay at http://www.ntlf.com/html/lib/bib/93-8dig.htm is by Todd M. Davis and Patricia Hillman Murrell and is entitled, “Turning Teaching Into Learning: The Role of Student Responsibility in the Collegiate Experience.” It discusses what it is, why it is important, the foundation for it, and how it can be encouraged. Very good information is at this web site.
Contact Richard L. Weaver II