There are things in my life about which I am ridiculously Type A. School is one of them. For example, I was commiserating briefly with Hubby about the non-traditional student life this morning. He was saying that he could never be a teacher because the students would frustrate him too much. I had to concur, even though I still occasionally think that I might like to try on the teaching cap one day. My guess is that Hubby’s thing with the much-younger students in his nursing classes is that they bear too striking a resemblance to the teenagers in our immediate family. Everything is too much, too loud, too dramatic, too Snapchatted and Instagrammed and Facebooked. My husband is a peace and quiet kind of guy; he got over the drama early when he found himself locked into a marriage with an addict at age nineteen. Now it just makes him twitchy. He’s the king of the tuned-out response. You might delude yourself into believing he’s listening, but if any part of what you said was needlessly flecked with drama, he didn’t hear you. Thankfully, I too am mostly drama-free and he loves me enough to hang on my every word.
Anyway, my problem with most of the younger students in college level classes isn’t really the drama or the Chatsnap or the unending selfies. My thing is that I can remember being them, and they shouldn’t be sitting in a classroom right now. They’re only interested in what they can do to slide by with as little expenditure of time and energy as humanly possible. They have other things they’d rather be doing. I sort of get that; we only get so many trips around the sun. But if I’m sitting in a classroom, it’s because I love to learn and because I want to do this thing or know this thing well, to such an extent that I will keep using and referring to it for years to come. The beeps and dings and vibrates of a twentysomething’s life are distracting. Their questions are ridiculous and indicative of someone who hasn’t read the material. Also, all students everywhere need to stop assuming they’re going to get grades that they didn’t earn, but particularly college students. If this is the kind of sliding by less-than that they’re okay with, then I should not be competing against them. Not ever.
I hate the idea that my husband and I are subject to the same job market as those early twentysomethings with whom I’ve shared a classroom. I know they don’t know the material like we do. I know that the fact that they graduated at all was a fluke and that they’ll probably only make it five years in whatever job they get before they start wondering every day what the hell they were thinking and that working every day is a lot less fun than drinking beer. It’s always bothered me that someone with youth and a C average beats my fortysomething with a summa cum laude every day of the week, but I’ll tell you the god’s honest truth: it bothered me a lot less as an English major than it does to know that there are nursing students doing the same thing.
One of those little bastards is going to be taking care of someone I love someday, and I really think they should know how to read a medical chart as well as my husband. Not that he can probably do that very well at this point (it being only the second week of classes), but you can bet your ass (and the ass of everyone you love who might someday be sick) that when it comes down to the nut-cuttin’, my sweet husband will know that shit forwards, backwards, and sideways, and he’ll do his job with a sagacious and empathetic kindness that simply isn’t possible for a person primarily interested in their Twitter feed.
Our economy SUCKS and our job market SUCKS and people only seem to get sicker and stay that way longer. I really think that the healthcare industry (at least the healthcare industry) ought to be more interested in the grade point averages and the quality of their help than in their youth. Although they might be looking at potential hires with an eye toward how many working years they have left, it seems to me that the quality of the work that can be expected should matter more, not to mention the fact that older people with families and homes and established lives are more likely to stay in a job than those who are just starting out.
Okay, that got a little ranty and off topic. I think my original point was that once (and occasionally, still), I entertained the idea of being a teacher. But then I realized that 1) I’m nowhere near competitive in the job market, and 2) I actually hate all students who aren’t perfectionists (the two we’re raising included), and I decided that I could never be happy with such long-term and immersive disappointment.
And my husband agreed because we’re MFEO.