I’ve been away from the computer(s) and internet since I wrote the post below. The comments have given me reason to want to expand on the subject. I won’t have a chance to address all of them tonight. Carlotta referred to my suggestion of students being objects.
The biggest challenge I faced when I was teaching in college wasn’t differences in learning style, ability or interest. Surprisingly (at least for me) the challenge was that many of the students I had seemed to expect that I was going to perform some mystical process and when I was done they were going to be ready to work in a profession. The hardest fought lesson was getting students to understand that the primary object of the courses I taught was something other than pleasing me: that I genuinely wanted and expected them to learn and be independently skilled.
I actually had a student ask me one day if what I had just asked them to do was ‘busy work’. Of that term, that is the most memorable moment for me. It gave me alot to think about. One of the things I have concluded from it is that once they reach a certain age/understanding level many students recognize or feel that through most of their education they have been objects. If that is the case then that would explain the students I first referred to in the previous paragraph: they had surrendered to being an object.
Whatever reasoning and motivation might lie behind the approach is secondary. What gave me the most to think about was wondering when or if some of the young people in such a state will ever see their way out of it. It’s a weighty thing to contemplate.