GENERATION NEGOTIATION

I am totally unqualified to pass judgment on specific acts of parenting. If I ever have kids, I'll probably be feeding them margaritas to get them to stop crying or something equally abhorrent that I would currently criticize with great indignation. So I try not to wag my finger at parents, excepting the most flagrant abuses of the "I tattooed my 2nd grader" variety. That said, I am not hesitant to criticize parenting fads, the kinds of things that saturate the non-fiction bestseller list and are more likely than not to come out of the mouths of a Dr. Phil or a Joy Behar.

When social commentators paint the current generation of college students – do they still call them "millennials"? – they focus on the Special Snowflake phenomenon, that overpowering sense of entitlement that is the product of well intentioned but empty-headed emphasis on self-esteem building. Self-esteem is a good thing. So is having a grasp on one's own abilities and accomplishments that is at least partially grounded in reality. But this the generation of "everyone gets a medal" and "everyone's a winner." Gawker recently published an email from a would-be intern to a potential "employer" (to the extent that interning is employment) that sets the Special Snowflake problem in high relief. I am important, I am special, I am fantastic, I am desirable. That's what these kids have been told for 20 years before we graduate them into a grist mill of unemployment, unpaid internships, and $10/hr office work with no benefits.

Enough has been said about that, though. The parenting fad of the 90s that causes educators more grief than any other is the idea that children should always be given choices. Don't give them rules or orders (That's so 1950s!). Give them options and let them learn about making choices and dealing with consequences. So Billy didn't have a bedtime, Billy negotiated his bedtime. Susie's mom didn't turn off the TV, she said "You can either watch another 15 minutes of TV or (whatever), but not both." Let them choose, the talking heads of the day hypothesized, rather than making them feel like they are always being ordered around.

That's great except for the fact that nothing in the real world actually works this way. I notice this problem acutely in two situations.

First – and it's not surprising that I mention this immediately after the spring semester when final grades are handed out – today's college students believe that receiving a grade is a multistage process of which the grade they earned is merely a starting point for negotiations. In the short time (six years?) I've been doing this, this is the single most irritating part of the job. I tell them, I am not Monty Hall and this is not Let's Make a Deal. Unfortunately they were born in 1989 so that means nothing to them. Grade negotiation isn't new, I assume, but I have to think it's getting worse. In the past three days I have received numerous emails to the effect of, "I know I failed your class but I really need a C to graduate. What can I do?" You can't do anything, Shooter. If you need a C to graduate then I guess you're fucked.

Every student launches into the Negotiating Bedtime mode in these situations. They offer to do extra work (which will be as slipshod as their previous efforts, of course). They offer to re-take exams. They simply try to negotiate upward based on dubious logic of some sort – "This is why I deserve a higher grade" or similar nonsense. I have been offered large sums of money to change grades. I have been offered sexual favors for the same. I've been threatened (Not the scary kind – the sad, self-important kind on display in the Gawker link). Some of these kids, for as much as they suck at formal education, would be dynamite as used car salesmen.

Second, they want to negotiate their post-graduation lives when they have no leverage beyond their conviction that they are special. A student recently told me about getting into Elite Law School X but being unhappy with their offer in terms of financial aid. He described the scenario to me in a way that suggested he imagined himself like Lebron James on the free agent market – he'd state his demands and watch a bidding war for his services ensue. As gently as possible I explained that Elite U. doesn't give a rat's ass about him and if he doesn't take their offer they have 10,000 other applicants with nearly identical qualifications who will. Students also talk regularly about "job offers", as in, "I'll wait to see what kind of offers I get before I blah blah blah." They don't grasp how little they are worth in times like these. Most of them, talented or bright as they may be, will be unemployed or marginally employed for a few years at minimum. Doctors, nurses, and pharmacists can make demands. Social science majors can't. This does not occur to them.

We're quick to point out how counterproductive it has been to fill generations of kids with the idea that they are special, important, and entitled to success and happiness. We recognize that their self-image departs radically from the current reality. Maybe with time we will come to a similar recognition of how useless it has been to teach them to negotiate and to couch everything in the language of choices. This is every bit as impractical given the noticeable absence of choices and leverage to negotiate in the job markets of the new millennium.

54 thoughts on “GENERATION NEGOTIATION”

  • This piece really hit home for me, a week before I graduate law school.

    I was a pretty entitled International Studies major coming out of a good college, and felt that I should be offered employment by, well, someone. This was due in small part to a history of being told how intelligent I was, but more than that due to an entire societal universal truth that graduating from college means you get a career.

    Obviously this is crap, especially if you're trying to cut in in a big city like me, but a lot of people still believe it. That two to three years of unpaid "internships" is now required after college to find a career remains a biiiiiiig secret across the land, even as college grads are getting screwed.

    So I can find more sympathy than you for the job-hunters, as I too had to find out the hard way that my B.A. is now worth jack. But I know from your past writings you can understand why I feel bitter as hell about having to work for free for as long as it took to realize I'd better get an advanced degree of some kind. And, while we're not all the guy at the Gawker link, there are lots of other bitter youth out there.

  • ladiesbane says:

    Negotiating certain things is bullshit, but giving a child options also works well for the parent. Asking the kid if he wants a sandwich or soup, instead of saying, "What would you like for lunch, dear?" and letting the poor little fucker try to guess what's in the pantry is a kindness to the child. Having to endure the guessing game of Password while the kid says he'd like pizza, tacos, cake, or Froot Loops, and being refused everything but a sandwich (or soup,) could lead mommy to spike the juice with Sominex.

    But the little snowflake who never is held to a rule or a standard or consequences has a rude awakening ahead.

  • This is the same mentality of the TeaTards, they think even though they have no education in the realms or economics, climatology, sociology, education, medicine, global/national/state/local politics, or evolution they are entitled to speak on on the issues with great zeal. They feel they are important and special.
    They feel they are entitled to their own facts.

  • Ugh, my younger sister (born in 1986) got through high school by negotiating her way out of bad grades, which drove me up the wall. She currently subsists without a car (or license) by bumming rides everywhere, and she's talked her way into a number of things in life (favors, internships, prime rental properties, etc.) with some glib arguments and empty promises. It makes me think of Cher from Clueless, who also regarded her grades as a "first offer" (and her father's reaction to her success: "Honey, I couldn't be prouder if these were based on actual grades.")

  • Aslan Maskhadov says:

    I generally agree but let's not forget who is responsible for this kind of mentality. While the entitlement disease is firmly entrenched on the right, particularly with libertarians, it was those of the "New Left" who represented this kind of over-individualistic thinking. That being said, there can be some benefits it giving children choices, if properly structured. Having to choose one thing while losing another teaches them about judgment and consequences. Far better to learn to sacrifice than get both options.

  • As a college student, here's the question I've got:

    Who is it actually doing the begging for higher grades? I'd bet my student loan money that it's not the students who show up every day, do all the extra credit, and end up with an 89.49999999 final grade in the class, but it's the ones that show up once every two weeks, not bother studying for exams, and turn in papers that look like they were entirely crapped out the night before that bitch and moan the hardest.

    Am I right?

  • I have to admit I'm kind of surprised by this post.

    Students have always begged and wheedled and pleaded. In fact they cheated as well; it was just more difficult to detect. There's nothing generational about it whatever.

    Furthermore, the letter at the Gawker link, obnoxious as it is, would never attract notice of any kind if it were written by an employer to his employee. Let's face it: why not make a few demands on the people who smugly make demands on you? Does America really need more servility from its populace?

  • To tie the job-hunting and good parenting aspects together: my father taught me two important things. First, be able to do something that people want to pay you for. Second, be GOOD at that thing, so people will want you to do it rather than the hordes of others who also have some ability in that area.

    Most of the population is taught or figures out the first of those lessons at some point in their lives. It's amazing how many neglect the second.

  • Elder Futhark says:

    "…would be dynamite as used car salesmen" Lemons from lemonade then. If these childen have become the ultimate parasites, if they are good at manuevering into a position of advantage with absolutely zero assets, then it is high time to put them to goo duse. Afghanistan, perhaps. Uzbekistan, certainly. It worked for Krushchev. Cadrboard missiles in Cuba made Kennedy withdraw nukes from Turkey. (Oh, come now, you didn't know that?)

    On the planet on the other side of the sun, which you cannot see because it is on the other side of the sun, children are constantly made aware of just what burdensome and lowly pieces of shit they truly are. Though they will never make it through – or to – Herb Cohen Finishing School, they all die well and bravely in glorious battle.

  • High Achiever says:

    I was one of the "star" students: Well-liked by instructors because I was intellectually curious, respectful to the teacher, always did my assignments on time, and did them well—and not just ploddingly, either. Meanwhile, I also devote graduated d a ton of effort to extracurriculars (both arts and sports), wound up a National Merit Scholar, and graduating with honors from one of the better-known colleges in the world.

    It never crossed my mind that my grades could be negotiated; and if other students were wheedling better marks out of their professors, I was happily unaware of it.

    Imagine my shock, being thrown into the workplace during the Bush I economic doldrums, that no potential employer would ever ask for my precious transcript. All those good grades? Pffft. Take this typing test, kid, and prove to us that you know how to use Microsoft Word and Excel. Everyone I knew (who didn't take a master's degree just to burn a few years and wait out the recession) was temping.

    The summer before my freshman year, I had interned with a prominent news organization, and at the end of the summer they suggested that I stay on as a paid assistant to a producer. "Either you can go to college after a year, or if you stay you'll be a producer yourself in short order." But having drunk the Kool-Aid of higher education all my life, I declined this offer and completed two B.A. degrees in four years, only to find that the job market sucked and no one cared about my fancy liberal arts degrees… Only whether I could type or answer phones. I probably should have taken that assistant position before freshman year, and never looked back. To make a real career after college, I had to basically invent one for myself on the side while temping to pay the bills. It all worked out, but not thanks to my supposedly impressive degrees. College "broadened" us, but it was useless as far as preparing most of us for the job (non-) market.

    With the cost of a non-State college education now in the $100-$200K range and still rising, I have to wonder: At what "price point" (ugh) will the notion that college grads have better career prospects break down? Is the U.S. already there? No doubt in trades which require hard science skills, college will always be necessary. But B.A.s… I'm not so sure. If you have even a little capital to send your kids to college, at some point parents will have to consider whether it might not be wiser to use that cash to set up Little Jimmy with a starter apartment and a used car, and get him into the McJob workplace at 17 instead of 21—since he's going to start out wearing a red polyester shirt at Staples either way.

  • Even the military is having to adjust its methods vis-a-vis the crybaby generation. When I attended Leadership and Management training it was less about setting goals and managing resources, and more about how to convince underlings to do what I want and play well with others.

  • The problem with college degrees and income is that a lot of people have been caught by the fallacy that correlation implies causation. Yes, it's true that people with college degrees make more money, on average, than people without them. But that does not mean that a college degree is a magic piece of paper that you trade in for a high-paying job.

    Someone without a degree can become incredibly wealthy if they provide something that people want or need. Someone with the most impressive degrees and grades can end up a pauper if they don't know how to do anything useful.

    Real life abounds with examples of both, but many people seem to go through life (and through college) thinking that this doesn't apply to them.

  • Don't hate your generation, kids like that, despite their lack of care in college will likely get by easily because they can hussle. And if you're talking a liberal arts degree you should be aware that you're sacrificing job prospects in order to be "educated" in a way that you like. Though you're not technically prepared for advanced work, people like you are well-able to learn and adapt, and to work hard in order to accomplish goals, which in a way is the real responsibility of education.

    Ike, I think that may have a bit to do with the "Feminization" of the military, where there are a now a lot more regulations on how people interact.

  • I think this is indicative of a general issue with childrearing for the last (at least) 3 decades. Clueless parents raised (and still are raising) children to be the focal point of the family instead of a contributing member.

    These kids grow up to be adults where society as a whole matters little and fulfilling their own needs/wants/desires/whims is paramount. They are simply carrying forth the object lesson elarned from their childhood. You see this in debate about politics and health care. No one gives a shit that a society's foundation rests upon the entire population; if the population crumbles, so does that society. Empathy is unknown. If one struggles in this culture it's seen as the result of individual short-comings, and not problems within our culture as a whole. I am so sick and tired of this self-ish me me me, reality tv watching twitter using self-importantness – it is so broken on so many levels and I don't see a fix for it.

    Blech.

  • My dear and fluffy lord, can you hear yourself? This is exactly how conservatives are born. Shake your cane at those young whippersnappers who don’t know how good they have it and how we had to walk 10 miles in the snow to school uphill both ways.

    This latest generational incarnation of the flappers/punks/hippies/hipsters will learn the lessons of the real world the same way we 30-somethings did, by either conforming or taking the hard path of real social and economic innovation.

    Its true what they say, today’s liberals are tomorrow’s conservatives.

  • We raised three boys. Some few things were negotiable (as an earlier poster observed) to avoid fruitless guessing sessions. Most things weren't early on. It is trite but true: disciplined behavior turns into habits which, long term, become part of your character.

    I whipped their asses when required, but never out of frustration or anger. I always explained the offense (very few were on the list), the punishment, and the future behavior in that area. Loved on 'em afterward and it appeared to work.

    My men came thru the HS years in the mid and late 90s. I told them they were special to me, but to no one outside their friends and relates. I gave them Jimcat's advice about developing a marketable skill with excellence – not necessarily the college route.

    The other thing I emphazied was attitude because I had observed how much it had taken a slide since mid-century. Employers seem to work with people who show up ON TIME with a teachable attitude. All three are currently employed. Two are EEs and one is in the auto parts biz (and a hell of a mechanic)

    On the grade front – I hear from y'all a change since my Troglodyte Tea Party Technical University days. The "negotiator" back in the day was that curve bustin' SOB who got a 93 on the test and was on the hunt for 2 MORE FRICKIN' POINTS.

    Lot's of people smoked weed, but no stoned slackers were in my world.

    //bb

  • I remember seeing that scene in "Clueless", where the central character is encouraged by her corporate lawyer father to "renegotiate" her grade, and thinking that was wildly funny, because at my school, challenging your grade would lead to a very humiliating, and public, dressing down about exactly why I'd deserved the grade and how immensely puerile, uninformed and trite my work was to get said grade.

    As Ray Liotta says in "Goodfellas", "the way I saw it, everybody takes a beating sometime."

  • As a current college professor, I don't see any more wheedling now than when I was a college student 30 years ago. However, we try to talk to the underperforming students well before the end of the term. There have always been some people that try to get by on charm rather than work.

  • I'm sorry to inform those that haven't ventured outside academia but the real world is not a meritocracy and these smarmy little negotiators are actually far more likely to be in charge in the near future than the meek who diligently study for every test foregoing a social life and believing that their stellar transcripts would guarantee them instant entry into the world of financial and career success.

    While it may seem patently unfair, this is how the world works. People hire those that are most like themselves and in management, that means self-assured even if there is no basis for it.

    Sorry to say it but these entitled little douchebags are a living a self-fulfilling prophecy and you hard working, studious types will roll your eyes and talk among yourselves about how unfair it is while they ascend the corporate ladder and your obsequiousness turns you into their slave.

  • The undergraduate system has watered itself down to basically being a form of day care for severely socially and emotionally underdeveloped 18 to 23 year old children. They live in a bubble, completely disparate from the "real world." I've been to multiple college towns and some of them seem like distant planets, such as as Asheville, NC where I swear I saw Jesus in a drum circle bobbing his head while walking around for several minutes.

    I just read an article today where many students entering college need to take remedial courses, in particular math classes. This should be unacceptable, and shows how far the public K-12 education system has fallen. The Department of Education should basically come out and say that high school is preparatory school for higher education, whether that is a community college or a four-year college and focus on teaching the basics of what is needed to function in society. A high school diplomacy is unsatisfactory for what the current workforce needs, unless you are a non-functioning autistic who can mop floors without hitting customers.

    Because they come into college without a basic education, the universities with large student bodies basically water down their degrees down to pointlessness, which ultimately brings down the entire institution of higher learning. Rather than holding up a B.A. as distinctive, the job markets are flooded with B.A.s of "folklore and ethnomusicology" and "political science." People in these majors are essentially taught to bullshit through 4 years of their lives.

    Basically, the four year degree is the new high school diploma, and with that the average number of mouthbreathers in your classes Ed will be consistent with those in the required US history classes taught in high school public schools.

  • This is why it's great to teach classes that are entirely objective in their grading. I've actually had my students say they think my multiple choice tests are more fair than the "please write me a code snippet that does x" tests, but even for the coding tests I have a very specific rubric where points are given out for functionality of code. We don't give credit for effort, and I've given As to people I've never seen in class because they write excellent programs and ace the exams.

    I've never had anyone try to negotiate a grade after the semester was over, but I have had people come in during the semester and ask what they can do to improve their grades. We DO have extra credit opportunities, but the main goal of them is to make the students who do them better programmers so that their future programs and tests don't need extra credit. And it works.

    It also helps that there's a faculty member overseeing the class who takes all of the "well I was sick for five weeks and I need a C to graduate" bullshit, and we lowly grad student instructors can just defer all of that crap to him :)

  • GET OFF MY LAWN!

    Yawn… yet another blog post about how the current generation is the suxors compared to the previous generation. I think maybe, possibly, in another 5000 years, we may stop hearing this tired old tale.

  • "Students have always begged and wheedled and pleaded. […] There's nothing generational about it whatever." Hear, hear, Andrew.

    I taught undergrad Gen Xs in '85-'86, again in '90-'93, and it was no different then. Except their cell phones didn't go off while they begged for a better grade.

    Seth 4:10 hits the nail on the head: "My dear and fluffy lord, can you hear yourself? This is exactly how conservatives are born."

    The world is always going to hell in a handbasket, young women always look like tramps, and it's always "that's not music, that's just noise."

  • LucyTooners says:

    Nunya has it down to the nth degree on his/hers assesment of what it takes to get ahead in the corporate world today. Which in my opinion is what is wrong with American businesses. it isn't necessarily what you know that gets you noticed but who you know and kiss up to. I have seen it time and time again where the no nothing blowhards get the promotions while the smarter, insightful ones get stepped on and passed over. Talent is passed over for personality. In order for companies to be competetive they need talent to lead the way. But NO it is if you can play golf, go to the club and hang out kissing the big guys ass you get noticed.

    I have been in the workforce for 30+ years and graduated in 1984 with a degree in Business. I worked my way through school paying my own way. I thought that gave me an edge since I had work experience and schooling. Guess what did not make a hill of beans. I am making today what I did 10 years ago. I have always worked in accounting or in some sort of management position with small and large companies. Only specialized degree programs and technical ones allow for more money. Generalized degrees only go so far. If you are so inclined into the sciences I recommend Pharmacology. I worked for a CPA and did taxes for Pharmacists. They are in demand and make serious cash.

  • I guess I have to disagree about the "everyone gets a meda;" deal. People often use that as an extreme example of Special Snowflake-ism, and after a fashion, I guess it is. But prior to a certain age, it's more about getting kids to participate than instilling in them a win/lose mentality. Real little kids should learn the value of participating, ie everyone who plays gets a trophy. But after a certain age (fuck no I don't know what age, I got no keeds) they should learn the value of working harder to get a special prize. or cheating better.

  • Is it really special snowflakeness? I get the sense this really isn't about kids who've gone all Stuart Smalley, but those who aren't willing or able to figure out when something isn't a haggling situation. Do you get the same students trying to cut deals repeatedly even though it hasn't worked before, or do most of them seem to get a clue once you make your policy clear?

    It isn't just parents pushing the notion that many situations are negotiable: from politics to priceline.com, one can get the sense that there's potentially a large gap between what's stated and what can happen. Granted, it's stupid to be taking cues from things like the "I owed the IRS" commercials, but if someone doesn't mind looking foolish, it doesn't sound like they've got much to lose.

  • "Rather than holding up a B.A. as distinctive, the job markets are flooded with B.A.s of "folklore and ethnomusicology" and "political science." People in these majors are essentially taught to bullshit through 4 years of their lives."

    With respect, some of us study subject because we are interested in the material and value education for its own sake. Some of us look at the university as more than mere job training. So while "folklore and ethnomusicology" or "political science" (or as I often hear, my major, philosophy) may seem abstruse and irrelevant, they may have great value for students beyond the ability to get an unpaid internship serving coffee to investment bankers in NYC.

    That said, you are correct that standards are diminishing at most schools. I'm at a large, PAC-10 University, and the Freshman English program here is a complete joke. So are many of the majors. Fortunately, there are still some excellent, difficult ones, that (while they may not train a student to be a mid-level manager in some corporation) build reasonably strong analytic minds.

  • It is remarkable how the end of a semester can change your average, vaguely hostile student and his/her "make me care, fucker" attitude into an engaged and earnest individual with maximal regard for his/her GPA. I don't blame parents, though. I blame the university. It's the university, after all, which woos students on campus tours with their shiny student centers, rec facilities, and thousand varieties of entertainment on the premise that they deserve constant wonderment, the little shits. When universities extol their academic profile, it is always to point to departmental profiles and scientific research, and never to talk about what smart and successful students they have. Universities want students for their money, and moreover students understand this to be the case, so they do not understand why they are expected to pay tuition and fees and for Coke products in the dining facility, and at the same time work for good grades. That wasn't part of the deal. So yeah, for the whiny brats, I blame the U. For my bright, engaged, hard-working students, I imagine I have their parents to thank.

  • Jesus H. Christ, Ed – are you really old enough to play the "this generation is awful" game?

    About forty-five years ago I read some diatribe about the worthlessness of the then current young generation (mine.) At the end, it was revealed to have been written by some Roman in the year 0. This shit never changes.

    And blaming whatever it is you're observing on self-esteem building is just like the right wing trick of searching for some alleged bit of quasi-relevant data that can be used to support whatever idiotic piece of propaganda they want to shove down the tea-baggers' throats.

    A right wing sound bite used to be that a conservative is a liberal who got mugged. Well, it looks like you're letting your students mug you.

    In my experience, this is the worst post you've ever written.

    Lo siento,
    JzB

  • Every generation is a collection of assholes. It's just that every generation's assholery differs from every *other* generation's, thus enabling each generation to possess the painful awareness of the assholism of those who proceed and those who follow.

    In short, Ed, you're right. They *are*, taken as an aggregate, a bunch of worthless little shits. So were the baby boomers. And us? Well, the old 'uns may be chocolate, and the young 'uns may be strawberry, and we may be vanilla, but we're all just ice cream, in the end. Only, you know, instead of 'ice cream,' 'assholes.' That metaphor sounded a lot better in my head…

  • To be fair, Ed, we Millennials haven't wrecked the country… yet.

    And hell, who do you think inculcated this sense of entitlement in our generation?

  • Wisakedjak says:

    @J. Dryden: Well, I'll look at chocolate ice cream differently from now on.

    also, strawberry

  • I hate to be one of those "you don't have children so you don't know what you're talking about" people, but I have to quibble with your claim that offering kids choices is the same as allowing them to negotiate. As a nanny of 8 years, I can assure you that letting a 4-year-old choose between three seasonally-appropriate outfits is not the same thing as offering her a sweater and then letting her wear a bathing suit in 40-degree weather because she insisted. I can't count the number of times I've given the "okay, I'm going to sit on the couch and read until you put on your sneakers because we don't wear flip-flops in the driving rain" speech. And when we leave the house 15 minutes later and she's wearing the sneakers, she learns that there are rules. And when negotiations happen, it's often because you're bending the rules due to good behavior, or because it's fucking impossible to uphold every rule all the time when your kid gives you a perfectly good reason why they should be bent. And sometimes they do. I respect that.

    It is a delicate dance between beating a child into submission, teaching them that the world is a harsh place that will dictate their fate to them, and giving them enough confidence to solve problems and think critically.

  • Oh, and the "you decide: we either bring the ball to the park and share it with our friends, or we leave it at home and nobody plays with it" speech teaches her about my communist ideals. As opposed to the old "we're bringing the ball and sharing it and shut the fuck up" so popular in…whatever decade that happened in.

  • HoosierPoli says:

    You of all people should know the seductive but specious power of narrative. The generation gap narrative is just as easy to grasp as the Great Man theory of history, and they're both wrong, for the same reasons.

  • As Ed knows, I am a prospective Marine Corps officer candidate. This is not because I want my brain removed, but because I want the leadership training and experience to be able to make decisions when the chips are down. I could have gone to graduate school, made good grades, and learned a whole lot about some subject that most people here in Washington, DC are already experts in simply because they've "read the book on it." While I will not go into why the District of Columbia is full of its own unique type of elitist asshole, I will say this:

    In the Marine Corps, everything is earned, not given. When I went to the Marine Corps booth during Public Service Recognition Week here in Washington, people were simply taking the prizes on the table, rather than doing the requisite amount of pullups necessary to EARN a prize. Marines would stop them and say "That is earned after 20 pullups."

    In relation to this article, I really do not think that most students think or believe they "earn" their grades. Their grades are simply an aggregate percentage of their scores on their various test, quizzes, and exams for the semester. If their mommies and daddies are paying between $7,000 and $25,000 a year for their education, you would think that they would ensure they record their grades and know where they are throughout the semester. But rather, college students would rather ignore their grades as a financially irresponsible idiot would as easily go buy a new TV because he is depressed about his high cell phone bill. College students simply can party off their bad grades like a drug, yet be slapped in the face with the hard, unforgiving reality once the semester ends.

    If I were in your situation and a relatively high percentage of students came up to me asking for extra credit, I would offer it to the rest of the class. Each student pays for the same education. It is up to the student to at least meet you in the middle and complete written assignments in legible English.

    So in summary, I think it is up to K-12 education to instill that grades, just like nearly everything else in life are earned, not given. Maybe your poorly performing students should head out to Parris Island for a life changing experience.

  • Jared,

    Congratulations and thank you for deciding on a tour as a Marine Corps officer.

    As a former (Naval) officer, I can inform you that you are partially correct on the earned rank in the military. You have chosen the service least likely to promote quickly and, depending on your path, you will encounter a much easier or much more challenging rise to the top.

    The enlisted ranks in the military are far more egalitarian than the commissioned officers. Make no mistake that pedigree (my father retired as a Captain) has a lot to do with your ability to achieve success.

    My own path in the navy as a meteorologist (yes I know, in harms way) saw me to the rank of Lt. Commander in 6 years. This is unheard of for almost any group besides the medical corps. Pilots are lucky to get there in 12 years and line officers… well, lets say they just won't make it. Prestige (or lack thereof) will always have an inversely proportional part in determining opportunities and rewards.

    The military is, ultimately, run by the same ladder climbing opportunists you'll find in business. I wish you the best of luck but also encourage you to take the dogma you will have rammed down your throat with a grain of salt. Oh, and do your best to come back alive. You seem like a sharp guy.

  • I must say that when I was a kid, I thought my mother was plenty mean and harsh–she was an old-school parent (plus, she was really and truly old, so she came by it honestly). And she was mean and harsh! But she most definitely prepared me for the cruel world we all have to live in.

  • Aaron Schroeder says:

    Zeb,

    Read the post. Ed never said that boomers weren't, in part, responsible for the bad behavior, or that boomers wrecking the economy wasn't worse that 'millenials' behaving like entitled do-nothing brats.

    Come on: as a philosophy major, you do know what a straw-man is, don't you?

  • Aaron,

    I never claimed that he didn't say such things, although I probably didn't make that clear.

    I'm simply replying to his above observation about the lack of outrage over his condemnation of the Boomers and attempting to explain it by noting that, for all its faults, the Millennial generation has at worst been merely annoying. That we have not yet dismantled many of the greatest programs in American history suggests that we are far less deserving of excoriation than certain other generations; hence, perhaps, the negative reaction from many posters to Ed's commentary above, and the muted backlash to his lambasting of the Boomers.

    Having observed my peers, I happen to agree generally with Ed's criticisms… I'm just trying to explain the difference in reaction.

    (That said, give us a little time and I'm sure we'll finish what the Boomers started.)

    And yes, thank you, I do know what a straw man is.

  • What's the deal with 5-year-olds today? They just sit around and eat juice, the lazy entitled bastards!

  • Aaron Schroeder says:

    Zeb,

    You're saying that the response to the boomer criticism was muted because the criticism was warranted. Fine. But what you're also saying is that the response to the millennial criticism has been vociferous because the criticism is unwarranted. What makes the criticism unwarranted? Your answer: the boomer's were worse! ("That we have not yet dismantled many of the greatest programs in American history suggests that we are far less deserving of excoriation than certain other generations".) But since Ed didn't accuse the millennials of boomer offenses, it misconstrues his position to claim that he was wrong to have thus accused them. In other words, it makes his argument into a straw-man.

    Look, the idea is that you don't get to bask in the light of your parents' roasting and then cry foul when it's your turn on the spit. And I agree that maybe we haven't committed the sins of our fathers, but that doesn't mean we don't have our own crimes to atone for. And that our parents were worse doesn't mitigate our blameworthiness. In fact, claiming as much just serves as more grist for Ed's mill, that we're all entitled brats who would just as sooner pass our shortcomings onto anyone besides ourselves than actually go about the business of working hard to correct whatever errors we perceive in our upbringing. Or, as you put it, "[W]ho do you think inculcated this sense of entitlement in[to] our generation?"

  • "But what you're also saying is that the response to the millennial criticism has been vociferous because the criticism is unwarranted. What makes the criticism unwarranted? Your answer: the boomer's were worse!"

    Maybe I failed again to make myself clear enough. I'm not saying the criticism is entirely unwarranted ("far less deserving" does not mean unwarranted), nor am I trying to make excuses for this generation–my comment about the Boomers causing us (to some degree) to be this way was an aside and hardly intended as a rebuttal to Ed's position, nor was it meant to deflect all blame. As I said above, we are rightly critiqued for our collective sense of entitlement.

    Rather, I was merely trying to say that, in all fairness, criticism is more justly and productively aimed at the Boomers than at Millennials, since they are presently the ones who hold power and we are not. For this reason, widespread public hostility is directed against the Boomers–and rightly so. We have peccadilloes; they have sins. Give it twenty years and that will obviously change, but I think it's a fair explanation of the state of things right now.

    Ed wrote, "Boy, I don't remember so many complaints when I said much the same about the baby boomers." My reply wasn't so much an argument against this as it was an attempted explanation. Ergo, it was not a straw man; at worst, it was a poor explanation.

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