Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Things I recently learned from my students:

1) Many of them -- the traditionally aged ones anyway -- don't know what "blue-collar" and "white-collar" mean.

2) Many of them are highly critical of the class system in the 1950s (they've been reading Vance Packard's The Status Seekers) and its emphasis on appearances, material possessions, family background, etc. in determining status. They believe that that has all somehow been magically fixed for them. They believe that they now live in a society where individual ability and individual worth are truly appreciated and rewarded.

The first one is just a kind "hunh" look how far we have come sort of observance. This is not a designation I have really had to "teach" before.

The second one, however, well, that one gives me more pause and I find myself staring at them with a combination of pity and concern... and maybe just a tiny bit of alarm.


Stella said...

1) I am glad you're posting again; I missed you!

2)I am always amazed by the way in which my students really believe that we are in a post-____ world. (Fill in the blank = race, class, etc.) I don't even have a good theory as to why this is? Do you?

Dee said...

Just wait until they get in to Corporate America! They'll be brutally reminded how important appearances are (and maybe they'll escape with their souls intact).

Zoe the Wonder Dog said...

I think they do it because they are young and they want to believe that 1) what they do will matter and 2) that what they have achieved thus far has been justly earned. When I talk with them about privilege - and certainly Packard's book is all about the ways in which privilege is at work in determining status - the traditionally-aged students often get very nervous and begin thinking that what I am saying is that they don't really deserve to be at (a branch campus of) Prestigious U.