Field of Science

Something strange in the neighborhood

Wut happened? Universities are such nice quiet places all summer, and then bam!  Something happens! It's noisy, it's crowded, it's a longer line at the coffee shop, it's hard to find parking (if you drive to campus).  Oh, yes, the students have returned for the fall semester, an event TPP avoided last year by taking a  sabbatical in Tuscany from life as usual. It hasn't changed. Students can be seen wandering around looking lost. iZombies wander the sidewalks. TPP is still concerned about the preparedness of today's students, what has been called the infantization of college students, the idea that students should be protected from discomforting and disturbing ideas or concepts. Nothing whatever should challenge their carefully crafted parochial world views. It never dawns on people that this severely limits learning.  Memos from deans suggest how to include "trigger warnings" in your syllabus as a precaution. Yes, probably a good thing TPP has retired with his record to having been accused of being a sexist, a racist, and a religious proselytizer all in the same semester while teaching botany. Some records you just have to be proud of and TPP wasn't even trying to slay any sacred cows or even advocate any cultural changes. It was however a non-majors class, and that semester prompted the move to change the class to an upper division majors class.  The thing about this is that some of these new students will not just do fine, they will do great, prosper, and take advantage of all the neat things you can do at university, like research, but it's impossible to tell ahead which ones. Finding those who wanted to learn was one of the great things about being a university professor. So from the sidelines, TPP wishes his colleagues and all the new students well. The formula for success is pretty easy: go to class, take time to think, and make an honest effort. As for the students, well, the same advice applies to you too.

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