As a Student:
There was a class in my undergrad program, where the instructor would lecture for over an hour straight and then put on a 45 minute video, every single class. Many of the students around me had their laptops out, looking at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media outlets. During the video portion of the class, when the room should have been pitch black but for the screen at the front of the room, laptop and cell phone lights were on throughout the room. No one showed the slightest interest in the course or the materials. When we were let out on a five minute break between the lecture and video, many would simply leave for the day. This was a regular occurrence. At one point, a classmate indicated that she was so uninterested with the course that she would simply put in her earphones and let her hair down to conceal their cords. By doing this she was able to look interested and get points for “participation”, but really she would be listening to music/radio/Netflix…etc. She was also able to appear as though she was taking notes by doing other homework in her notebook. Given the lack of attention paid to the materials and course, one would assume that the student would do poorly in the course. However, the grades were structured in such a way that she passed with an A in the course. To me, this just further proved multiple things: passing a course didn’t mean you learned the material, clearly students didn’t want to engage or learn so long as they received the grade they wanted, and there was something broken if a student could pass a class and potentially obtain their degree without really learning the information.
As a Teacher:
I happen to work with high school students outside of my full-time job. Many of these students I have convinced to come to WSU after graduation based on their intended degree. Recently one of them came to me indicating unhappiness with his chosen major. After speaking at length with him, he decided that it may be best to try a second semester in his intended degree but mix in some classes related to his new interest to see if he liked it. I had asked him why he had chosen his degree in the first place, he indicated that he liked it, but mostly he was getting pressure from family and HS guidance counselors to pursue STEM because it was his best chance for a job after college. When he informed his family, school counselor, and advisor that he was thinking of changing his major from Engineering/Computer Science to Journalism and Economics, he was ridiculed and made to feel that he would never get a job. A similar experience happened to me when I was deciding my major. There is a huge push for students to go into STEM fields and that Liberal Arts degrees will mean no job security and inability to pay debt. This simply isn’t true. Students graduate with thousands of dollars in student loans, competing for the few jobs that are available in the local and surrounding markets.