[Milton-L] What have we become?

Carol Barton cbartonphd at earthlink.net
Mon Apr 16 22:06:44 EDT 2007

Thank you, James. I like your syllabus note: what a surprise it must be, to 
some of them!

My point was, I think, that somewhere in the changed curriculum, among the 
isms and the PC absurdities, we have lost the ability to teach fundamental 
respect for human life, and encouraged a generation of me-ists who consider 
*my priorities*--my broken relationship, my estranged children, my 
anything-that-makes-my-life-less-than-idyllic--more important than the lives 
and needs and desires of others. We have taught these children instead that 
personal satisfaction--Andy Warhol's fifteen minutes of glory--is more 
important than your life, or mine, or the lives of anyone who happens (like 
today) to get in the way of a grade the shooter doesn't like--a boss who 
fires him or her--or a girlfriend or boyfriend who is no longer interested 
in continuing the relationship. We encourage all sorts of "reparation" 
agendas: YOU OWE ME, according to my own warped sense of victimization, and 
therefore, I have the right to hurt you (whether you ever actually hurt me 
or not).

Forgive my rant. I am tired, and sickened by all of this--as I am by 
kamikaze pilots and suicide bombers and war and carnage and senseless, 
stupid bloodshed by the bucket and the gallon of people who are just trying 
to live their lives. It has been too long a day.

Carol Barton

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "James Rovira" <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2007 9:48 PM
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] What have we become?

>I don't want to comment on whether or not the good old days were that
> good because I don't know, but I do think Carol Barton's description
> of a consumerist attitude in our students today is an accurate one.  I
> try to work against it by including the following paragraph in my
> syllabus:
> <<What is a College Class?: I am not a service industry employee and
> you are not customers.  An education is not something I have and then
> give to you.  This class is an opportunity for you to educate
> yourselves under my guidance.  By attending class and completing all
> readings and assignments you take that opportunity.  If you do not
> attend or do the work you relinquish that opportunity.  The choice is
> yours.>>
> It's also not clear to me that the recent shootings have anything to
> do with changed attitudes.  Nuts with weapons have always been able to
> kill lots of people.  In the past this has usually been restricted to
> nuts in positions of power or people empowered by them.  In our more
> Democratic age, relatively powerless nuts can kill lots of people.  If
> they don't have guns, they can use bombs (Oklahoma City bombings,
> Unabomber) or chemical or biological agents (remember the anthrax
> mailings not too long ago? To my knowledge this case was never
> solved).   I don't think it's really that hard to poison a city's
> water supply if you're motivated a do a little research.  Nutzo
> college students can pull off any of this.
> I'm more interested in student attitudes toward their own education
> and think it's a more appropriate topic for this list, though.  I
> certainly understand the need to vent, though.
> Jim R
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