Tuesday, January 15, 2002

THE PEARL JAM** GENERATION
It rained most of the day here, which was a nice change for everyone except the landscape crew who came by to rip out a bunch of dead bushes and plant new stuff. Oh well, at least they can be thankful that it wasn't hot.

I spent the afternoon at the University, where my class of 25 seniors expressed a world-weary boredom well beyond their years. These are film students making their final project and one would think they'd be thrilled, bursting with energy and ideas. Instead, most sit and smirk, afraid to speak in class or stand out in any way which might make them a target of their peeres. And God forbid anyone should push them. They will immediately fall into the victim routine. Where is your project? This happened, that happened, it's his fault, or her fault. The buck stops here is not a phrase they embrace.

After the class, another teacher and myself discussed the group and ways we might prode them into action. They're the Pearl Jam** Generation - self-aware and savvy, but verbally challenged to the point of mute and irresponsible when confronted with any request (or deadline) they don't like. The most annoying portion of this group functions like a block of ennui, poisoning the rest of the class. We teachers are starting to regret our new mandatory attendance policy.

All this is depressing to realize, but liberating to understand. I've been told that the trick to being a good teacher is to remember the class is about the students, not the teacher. I'm still too new at this to say that's right or wrong, but I see one point to it - if a portion of this class wants to do the bare minimum or less, there's nothing I can do except fail them. Instead, I'll focus on the kids who are interested and have a project worth encouraging (and mind you, those people are there).

**CORRECTION:
Chris from NJ noted that my use of Pearl Jam Generation is innacurate to describe the current college crowd. Many of these 21-year-olds were only 10 when Pearl Jam's biggest records came out. Good point, although I was using Pearl Jam as sort of the originators of angry modern mope rock. Of course, if that's the case, then I really could take it back to Nirvana, right? Chris suggested: these lame asses belong to limp bizkit or whateverthefuck generation. So this afternoon, I changed it to the Pearl Jam/Limp Bizkit Generation.

But after thinking it over, I'm reverting to the original Pearl Jam Generation. Age 10 or 11 was when I started listening to music, so I suppose it was the same for current college kids. And Pearl Jam certainly influenced many of today's most popular inarticulate rock bands. So correction reversed, back it goes.

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