I'm participating in a campus project on student engagement which starts with reading a few chapters from Barkley's book on, yes, student engagement. I started reading yesterday.
In the introduction, Barkley talks about being a deanling and then going back to teaching and finding that her students were apathetic and what she'd done well in the past (lecture) just didn't work. I'm not disputing that.
What I want to ask, though, is: are your students apathetic?
I ask because I wouldn't use that word to describe my students at all. It's not like they necessarily love whatever I'm teaching at a given moment, but they aren't apathetic in the sense of not feeling or caring.
If I have a conversation with any student, an advisee, a student in a class, a student checking through my groceries, any student, they reveal pretty quickly that there are things they care a lot about.
When I read my first year students' research essays, they reveal that there are things they care a lot about.
I don't necessarily care about the same things, of course, but that doesn't make them apathetic. And it doesn't make the things they care about unimportant or useless.
(Of course, I'd like some of them to care more about writing well, or Shakespeare, or whatever, and that's why I'm working on the program.)
We're supposed to read a few chapters and then go in with some prepared questions, and I'm thinking I'll ask one about student apathy.
What about you? Are your students apathetic?
(Coincidentally, from what I can figure, Barkley was teaching in a community college not far from where, at about the same time, I was enrolled at a community college. I wasn't apathetic, but I really don't have a sense of the other students in the classes at all. We didn't do group stuff and they were all night classes with students who were probably working full time, and we weren't very social as I recall.)