Sometimes St. John’s amazes me. I have to sit back in my classes at times and wonder: How on earth did these people get into college?
How on earth did these people, who have no business being here, get into this university? So I sit in my classes and try and figure out the answer.
First, I go over the fundamentals. I think, they must know their alphabets – DKNY, BMW, NIKE, A.D.I.D.A.S., PRADA and ABERCROMBIE are widely seen here.
Some letters seem to be the more popular than others. For instance, its not often you see END SWEATSHOPS written on a t-shirt here.
Nonetheless, these people seem to know the alphabet, so I don’t think that’s the problem.
Math doesn’t seem to be the problem either. Ask any of them what they earn in a week at their job, they can tell you.
They can tell you exactly how many hours they worked, what they will spend the money on, what they are saving for, what their bills are, etc.
These people often can’t seem to remember their math professor’s name, however, but they have the basics down. So that’s not the problem. Addition and subtraction seem almost necessary for their survival.
So the ABC’s are known, and math is certainly not the answer. So the question remains: How did these people, with no concern for their grades, not a care in the “college world,” get here?
Then I think, that’s strange. No concern for their grades? Why bother then? Not only do these people have no business being here, the vast majority of them don’t even want to be here.
At least, it certainly seems that way. They don’t take notes. They don’t ask questions. They have no passion for learning. They fail the tests. They don’t show up for class, and sometimes they even leave class to chat on their cell phones. The questions just get bigger and bigger.
So I turn to the professors. They’re supposed to have all the answers, right? Of course! The professor! But as I turn to my professor, my heart sinks.
He sits in front of the classroom, occasionally looking up, lecturing with the same monotonous tone he always uses. With apparently less passion for the subject than the students.
Wait a second? Aren’t I paying for this class? Should I be allowed to ask questions? Shouldn’t the professor be willing to answer my questions?
He should be passionate and excited about what he is talking about. How does he expect us to be interested when even he is bored?
How am I supposed to ask questions of a professor like this? Whether it is about the subject matter he attempting to teach or the present state of the student body?
But I try. I try and ask questions. I try and learn. And I am just shot down, again and again.
I am given strange looks that seem to say, “What are you doing? This isn’t a place of learning!” My fellow students, who I am asking about in the first place, get annoyed and wish I would just shut up.
But I can’t completely blame the professor. Maybe he teaches like this because he knows that no matter what, the students won’t care.
Or maybe vice versa. It’s the chicken and the egg cycle. Which came first? Bad teachers or bad students?
The professors might not have the answers, but they could be part of the problem.
Maybe these students are here because they know that minimal effort is needed to pass the courses.
Maybe they understand that, here at St. John’s, there is no need to worry. There is no need for concern for your grades.
These students know that some professors will be easy on them. They completely understand that their professor will give them the answers to the test beforehand. They know that they don’t have to do the reading because it will not be included on the exam.
These students will not be asked to do anything other than come to class. And even that is optional at times. Nothing hard will be asked of them.
Then it dawns on me. That’s what these students are doing here! They are getting an easy college education. That’s how they got into this school! It’s easy.
So now that I know why they are here, because it’s easy, I can’t help but wonder what can be done. Sure, it’s easy to sit here and say things have gotten bad here at St. Johns. But if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, right?
I think St. John’s can improve, dramatically, but people have to be willing to change. The professors have to be willing to push students to their limits, and students have to be willing to be pushed. With a little shove from both sides, our experiences here can be better.