Wednesday, February 13, 2008

20 years later

I stand in front of a room of college freshmen. Only now, I am not one of them, but the professor. Yes, a full 20 years and so many of the questions are the same: do we really need a thesis? do you really have to cite your quotes? a full three pages, is she kidding? And then my favorite of them all: do we need to type this?

Now, kiddies, 20 years ago when I arrived at college THRILLED to have an electric typewriter in hand after learning on a manual one in our ancient typing classroom, I asked this question. Ok, so I only asked it during fall semester; by spring semester I understood the answer would always be a rousing yes. In the age of computers, I thought this question would be rendered obsolete. After all, my students will type texts to each other from across the room if I let them rather than speak. Yet, the question persists.

And thinking of it reminds me of how many other things have changed since I was that student. We had no internet (kind of obvious since we had no computers, but it seems to need to be said). We had to go to the library to do research and look through microfilm for "current" answers. And we had to know things since we couldn't dial up the trusty google on our cell phones. Oh, that was because we did not have cell phones. Or pagers. Or answering machines. Or tivo.

By this point, anyone under the age of 35 has fallen into a stupor wondering what we could possibly have done with ourselves. Shall I rouse them for a spirited game of pong or just let them zone out contemplating a world where coffee came in one flavor and cost a mere quarter?

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