Non-Communicative Future

Yesterday morning in my Comp I class I had them share what they had written for the Portfolio Project that was due.  In the portfolio I had asked them to evaluate themselves as students/learners/writers as well as revise one paper and set some goals. I started doing this type of project in another school, and for the most part feel that it is a successful project. I still feel that, even after grading the projects yesterday, except for one thing. Many of my students don’t know how to communicate. Most of them shared their portfolio in as few sentences as possible–not expanding or explaining unless  I asked questions, barely even listening to each other talk. After that, I vamped for the rest of the time (as I had expected it would take longer) talking about learning, why we need to take writing classes, how would they form their ideal comp class, anything that came to mind. (I used up my material for the last class tomorrow, now I have to think of something else).  But, in typical fashion, two or three of them spoke and the rest stared at me in silence. This has been my semester in this class. It might as well have been a class of three people.

I was teaching writing. I helped some of them improve in grammar and the ability to support an argument. I helped some of them improve as readers, or just gain confidence in their ability to learn. That to me is a success.

But many of them still don’t know how to communicate.

In part of the “discussion” yesterday we talked about the changing forms of communication. For example, the fact that more people function by text messages now than any other form of communication. I mentioned how important it was to learn to write proper e-mails and things. Later in the day, I got this e-mail from one of the students in the class:

“Dear Ms. lisa what would be my grade in the class?!?”

That’s it. That was the extent of the e-mail. Now, let’s forget about the fact that they still haven’t figured out that I am Dr. I just wanted them to call me Lisa, but I usually get one of the following: Teacher,  Ms. Lisa, Mrs. Kramer, Mrs. Lisa, nothing, and on rare occasions Dr. Lisa or Dr. Kramer. But, setting that aside, my name is not capitalized. He didn’t sign it. And he wrote this one sentence when I told them that I would be figuring out the grades and let them know on Friday.

Students today do not know how to communicate.

Vicky, at Little Miss Everything, wrote a post today called “My best friend is a screen” that asks if our future will be this

Sadly, I think we are heading to some form of that. I don’t necessarily believe that everyone will be a fat slob (although there is potential for that too). But I do think that we are losing the ability to communicate face-to-face. We are also losing common courtesy and respect for each other, as our skills in face-to-face communication dwindle.  How often have you sent an e-mail and never gotten a reply? Not even an acknowledgment that the person received your e-mail? How often have you made a phone call asking for a return call and never gotten the call back?

I am guilty of these errors myself. I am bad about writing thank you notes and thanking people for invitations. I’m trying to get better. I don’t like to talk to people on the phone, but I will and I will call back. Sometimes I prefer to e-mail, but I always respond to e-mails. I’m not perfect, but I try.

I worry though that we are raising a generation of people who will never try, because they are too buried in their own pleasure. In the self-evaluation I had several students admit to: texting or listening to music during class, or falling asleep intentionally. But then the following statement would be something like, “I respected my teacher and my classmates.”

Is this respect? Where are we headed in a world that does not respect each other or know how to communicate?

Sorry for the RANT! But what do you think?

[Update, another of my favorite bloggers chose to write about this topic today as well. Check out her post  ” A World Without Words”.]

0 thoughts on “Non-Communicative Future

  1. Love Beth’s comment. I worry that my kid will grow up in a culture of isolation. Relatioships, discussions and interaction seem to be replaced with sterile cyber messages, texts, and “social” networking sites that actually encourage people not to be actively “social” at all.

    • I know. So one of my new crazy thoughts is that I want to make it a goal to meet some of my favorite blogging buddies in real life. That might terrify people, but I’m going to try. I know there are blogging conventions, but that’s not what I mean. If I am travelling and anywhere near a blogging buddy, I want to have coffee or lunch. People can always say no, but I’m going to try. And I’m going to try harder to get Sarah to interact face-to-face as well. The other day she met a new neighbor in the backyard, and they sat in lawn chairs with a fence between them, chatting away. It was heartwarming. I wish I took a picture.

  2. Great post. It’s such a shame communication is going down the pan like that and I agree that it’s disrespectful to not talk to each other properly, reply etc – it’s bad manners! We are getting way too used to hiding behind technology.
    Ah if only we lived in the same country, I would def meet you for a coffee :)

    • I will get to England one of these days, and you are one of the top of the list to meet. I think we’d at least have to have coffee and dessert. ;)

  3. This is an issue that also concerns me. I would much rather communicate face to face or at least by phone because nuances can be lost otherwise and one has the ability to react immediately with direct contact. Unfortunately there is much rudeness or improper communication with these forms as well.

    I try to respond to all emails that I receive, as well as comments on my blog since I feel that is direct communication although perhaps not always of the most sincere form. Often, either because I had not conveyed myself well or the receiving party is not reading closely, I find that misunderstandings occur more easily in these written forms and that can sometimes lead to problems.

    I’m not a fan of emoticons but I have begun to see their usefulness especially if I’m trying to be light or humorous. Facial expressions and fluctuations in vocal tones have been replaced be silly symbols :(

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

    • I think I hold off on silly symbols until I feel like I know someone a little bit. But sometimes it is easier. Misinterpretation happens in any form of communication, but I think the problem lies in lack of effort. By this I mean, I am more apt to read carefully if what is written shows respect for me as the reader. I don’t mean I have to agree with it, but I mean that it has to reflect that someone acknowledges that there is a person on the other end of the comment or the message. Does that make any sense?

  4. Hi there! I came over from Spirit Lights the Way to see what you had to say on this terrifying topic… It’s so true that we are losing touch with how to communicate with each other on a personal level. Just look at internet dating as an example! We are so far removed from interpersonal communication that we look at each others’ profiles instead of each others’ faces!!!

    • Thanks so much for visiting. It is scary how many people I know who have created relationships after only meeting on line. It will be interesting to see how long those actually survive.

  5. Omg Lisa! These same things really aggravate me. I just sent an email last week asking a friend if he ever thought about answering his emails. I then attached a copy of an email I had sent him over 2 months ago. One that he had never responded to.

    I truly loathe unanswered emails and calls not returned. I tend to mentally delete those people from my important list after a few transgressions. I can not imagine trying to educate a room full of this person. Kudos to you for teaching and caring about what you do. I thank you!!!

    • I love the e-mail about e-mails. Funny, yesterday I hesitated about replying to your e-mail since I was not sure of my answer. But then I read your comment, which reminded me of what I wrote only a few days ago. I think I’ve lost my mind.

I love words, so I'd love to hear yours! Talk with me.