Saturday, May 14, 2005

Vocabulary

"What does this word mean?" I'm proctoring a test in an Intro to Advertising class and this girl comes up to me and asks me about one of the questions. The word was affluent.

"It's well-to-do," I answer. The girl has a vapid look on her face and just blinks. "You know, bling-bling" I answered in my head but thought better of actually saying that aloud. I explained that it was someone with a nice house, a nice car and makes good money. She seemed to finally get it. I had to wonder once again about today's college students.

Another test, another question. "What is flowery language?" this guy asks. This is History of Mass Comm, a 300+ lecture class. "What do you think it means?" I answer. After all, if you think about it, it's quite obvious, I thought. "Can't you just tell me?" the guy responds. This is a senior level class. It seems like every test there are at least one or two words students ask about.

Sometimes I wonder if we were just as clueless in college or if students today really aren't as bright. Then I remembered a discussion I had back when I was a sophomore in college. One of my teachers pointed out the word "misogynistic," or the hatred of women. She said there was not a comparable word for the hatred of men. My boyfriend at the time argued that "misanthrope" was the hatred of men, until we looked it up and saw that it was hatred of mankind, meaning all humans. I doubt that many of my college friends had to ask the TA the meaning of the word savvy.

Dara

1 comment:

Auntie M said...

Just watch Jay Leno when he's out interviewing young people on the street or running his once a week comedy quiz show with people from his interviews. All I can think is that the stupid people are breeding a lot faster than the smarter ones. No, we weren't as clueless as this in college. Did you ever see that piece going around the internet a while back on what an 8th Grade Education used to entail? I'd imagine that a lot of college students couldn't pass what used to be the requirements of 8th grade in this country. It's somewhat Orwellian when you look at the level of analytical thought the citizenry practices these days and realize that it's a population of people more interested in bread and circuses than knowing anything about what's going on in their government. (Sorry for the rant...the general level of ignorance just scares me.)