A couple of weeks ago one of my Honours students remarked how impressive it was that I read books; he then gasped when I said that I often read the same book more than once. His comment was only topped when another Honours darling told me that she hated reading. My honest reaction was, then why are you doing a postgraduate degree if you don’t want to read? But unfortunately, it seems as if less and less students think reading is important and most seem to try avoid it as much as possible. Instead, they seem to prefer taking the easy route when it comes to research and are content at having a quick skim on Wikipedia. The more concise the better. Unfortunately, I’m no cartoonist, but if I were, I’d so draw what I’m about to write next to prove how dangerous such behaviour is.
The world is on the brink of destruction; the nuclear blast that the Americans fired at North Korea killed most and left many more a walking abomination of death and glowing radiation. A few survived, but in this world I’m convinced it’ll only be those of us who know how to live without technology that’ll be able to rescue the human race, kill the zombies and start a new Eden (I’m banking on being supreme ruler and will name the new world Lepus Sylvaticus).
Anyway, picture this: The zombies are attacking, there is no power and the internet has crashed permanently. The only way to defend yourself and acquire the information on how to survive is located in a quaint and archaic building previously known as a library. In order to survive, you are required to search through volumes of text and read the fine detail because not every zombie is the same. Knowing the difference between the bucketheads and coneheads is vital because only one can be defeated by butter, while the other is only susceptible to chainsaws. But here’s the problem, nobody has the ability to find anything in any of the books because they’re too used to having Google find information for them. And worse, after two sentences of reading they are bored, because nobody is used to reading anything in detail, and so they give up, succumbing to a bloody zombie mauling.
In another scenario, you may have survived on pure idiotic luck, but the zombies are fast approaching and not only do you not know how to kill them, because you won’t read more than two sentences, but you also have no clue how many you are going to have to kill because along with no internet, you have no calculators to add up how many are after you. It’s that story sum that you thought was of no use during Math class: You are surrounded by 68 zombies. Tommy has 28 chainsaws while Susie has 11. How many chainsaws do you need to pick up to get out alive? Too slow! And you actually needed butter because they were bucketheads. Your tiny brain is now being devoured. Bye bye!
Now, after this amazingly brilliant insight, I hope you see how important it is not to rely so heavily on technology? You don’t want to survive a nuclear holocaust just to be devoured by zombies, do you? Come on! Read a book! Learn to add, and most importantly, stop asking Google for everything!
After opening my email this evening, I was struck with a thought. What makes a person stupid? Actually, my first thought was that it’s illegal to strangle stupid people; then I thought what makes a person stupid. I’m not talking about intelligence here. That’s determined by a number of factors. Just because I can read and write (haltingly), or play the piano (I can’t), or add and subtract vast arrays of incomprehensible algebraic functions (I can’t do that either), doesn’t make me smart, but it does allude to the idea that I have some level of intellect that has allowed me to learn such things. So then why is it that so many people that I come into contact with on a day-to-day basis act like such incompetent, moronic imbeciles? Is it their complete lack of logic, a deprived childhood without fluffy toys, or just an inane desire to annoy me?
Let’s take this lovely email. My students (now, now, don’t judge, they’re people too you know?) have to do group projects which will culminate into a class presentation this Friday. Three weeks ago they were told that they would be put into groups, and to email their choice of topics before the next class so that I could sort them. Some (the good ones) did exactly as they were asked, others (the ummm… bad ones) did not, so I had to randomly place them into groups so that we could move on with the project. Last week, they assembled in class, were given their group listings and were required to continue on their merry way doing the group assignment. One teeny, tiny, little problem – my class is filled with ghosts (aka the umm… bad ones).
And that’s where my email comes in. One of the wandering spirits has emerged, with a message: Choice 1 – Group xyz; Choice 2 – abc; Choice 3: pqr. Sorry, to tell you this Casper, but you’re already part of a group; a group that has already met, decided what they’re doing, and came up with a plan to work around your vaporised presence. And before I hear complaining and whining and oh, oh, oh, oh, that’s so unfair and you need an extension and, and, and, try this – come to class. If you’d bothered to be there in the first place you’d know what was going on. Actually, if you’d bothered to read the material placed online, or your course material, or your emails, you’d know what was expected of you. So, in reply to your plea for an extension: NOT MY PROBLEM!
In reply to your group’s plea to deal with you: IT’S NOT THEIR PROBLEM – CARRY ON AS IF YOU WEREN’T THERE!
Reading this back to myself, I realise I sound incredibly nasty and fed up. But truth be told, I am. And this was just the icing on the cake. When you are constantly forced to deal with lazy and incompetent people (not students!) it does drive you a little crazy. For example, in reply to an email which someone I know sent, they asked where an administrative meeting was to be held, along with a number of other questions relating to administration. The reply from the receiver was: if the student is in Durban send them there, if they are in PMB send them to PMB. Huh? I thought the question was about where a meeting was being held and admin, not where to send students? But at least I’m not alone in dealing with the brainless undead, other people around me have to deal with it too………… HANG ON! Brainless undead?! People aren’t becoming stupid, it’s the rise of the freaking zombie apocalypse! Screw strangling them, bring me my chainsaw!