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December 5th, 2012

The Queen of Tabs

People who aren't in education (and many who are) often gripe to me about how kids today are lazy and don't know how to work anymore.  "In my day . . ." they say.  This kind of thinking drives me crazy.  I hear all kinds of variations of it also: Kids don't respect teachers anymore.  Kids don't do homework anymore.  All kids are interested in is Facebook and Twitter.  Etc.

This strikes me as overgeneralization and seeing the past through rose-colored glasses.  In the time I've been teaching, I haven't seen an evolution toward the bad.  Kids today strike me pretty much like the kids of the early 80s, when I started teaching.  I don't see anything materially different from my students today and what I remember of being a student in the 60s and 70s.  Even my mom, who was in high school in the 40s, told me stories about poor students, drinking and sex then.

Also, teachers in the 60s and 70s were complaining that kids then weren't as respectful or hardworking as kids were when they were in school, and if you look at the writings from teachers in the 30s and 40s, you'll see that they were complaining that kids weren't as serious about school as kids at the turn of the century.  If you graph that out, the kids during the 1800s must have been academic saints, like Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn.

Hmm.  That doesn't quite work out, does it?

At any rate, this is a long setup to celebrate one of my students, the Queen of Tabs.  She's a bookish senior who is ceaselessly upbeat and funny in person, who loves to read, who writes dark and thoughtful poetry, and who is the most meticulous student I've met in a while.  I had her in class her sophomore year, and one of the first habits of hers that I noticed was how she annotates a book.  Wow!  So, I saw that she was studying The Hunchback of Notre Dame independently.  I asked if I could take a picture of her book, which I've included here.

I can't tell you, really, if students have changed all that much through the years.  My sampling data base is too small, and all I have for evidence are my personal anecdotes, but I can tell you for sure that (as always) some students still work very, very hard.

I give you the Queen of Tabs: