Testing Day - The day was finally here for the groups to test their games and see if other people found them enjoyable or not. Our group was happy that we had the final ...
7 years ago
Imagine, for instance, that you were an undergraduate who had been reading a sonnet by the poet Shelley for a classroom assignment, and that it had really swept you away. Unless you enjoyed being a figure of fun, you would not have dared to articulate your feelings for the poem with any honesty in the average peer-group talk in the average dorm lounge.As Moffatt found, dorms can be a downright anti-intellectual space where, ironically, any lofty attempt at genuine reflection on the world of knowledge -- such as expressing pleasure on discovering Shelley's poetry -- was sure to be shot down as an expression of "inauthentic" belief in "inauthentic" institutions. In the discourse of "undergraduate cynical," there is no authenticity outside the space of the dorm room, where you get to be yourself.
[A]ctually caring about the material is deeply frowned upon, and the only questions you're permitted to ask of a teacher are about the details of grading and assignments... Signs and talks geared to incoming students explain that one must "work the teachers" by talking to them, getting them to recognize you so they will give you hints about tests and go easy on you when you need exceptions. "I take the information I need from the professor", one highly-successful student tells Nathan, explaining what that consists of: "how they're going to grade you and what they think is important". Everything is seen as part of the game, not worthwhile for its own sake."Playing the game" of college success is seen in the discourse of undergraduate cynical as always a way of "getting over" -- which is reaching the goal of career and "life" after college with the least effort possible. In their book Educated in Romance: Women, Achievement, and College Culture, Dorothy Holland and Margaret Eisenhart describe three common attitudes toward college among the women they studied, which they called "getting over," "doing well," and authentically "learning from experts." Students who are "getting over" just want to do what is absolutely necessary to get their degrees and therefore see school work as an obstacle to their goal to be "gotten over" by whatever means necessary (short of actually working hard or engaging with the material). Those out to "do well" have basically the same focus on grades and graduation as those out to "get over," they just work a lot harder because they want to get an A. They have set loftier goals for themselves than the "getting over" crowd, so they envision higher obstacles to get over (like admission to med school). Undergraduate cynical tends to favor "getting over" as the most social leveling attitude (because it's the one most likely to diminish expectations among peers and faculty in a socially reinforcing loop of highest grades for least effort), but it acknowledges "doing well" as a valid desire. What undergraduate cynical cannot abide, or perhaps what it cannot understand, is any authentic desire to "learn from experts." In fact, undergraduate cynical basically does not encourage athenticity of any kind, since the basic ideology it supports suggests that all things are game playing. So any expression of authentic engagement must itself be a pose or a sham -- just brown nosing for teacher.