In “Message to My Freshman Students,” Keith M. Parsons outlines how he’ll address the incoming first year students in his Introduction to Philosophy class. Having taught first year students “for the first time in many years” in spring 2015, Parsons found many of his students to be woefully unprepared for his course and the academic experience as a whole. Parsons sees the big deficiencies as result of high school teachers who were forced to focus on test prep and coddling students, rather than teaching students to think critically. Instead of catering to current students through flipped classrooms and the like, Parsons argues students need to learn to listen and learn from lectures, his preferred method of instruction. Parsons concludes his article by pointing what he feels is the biggest difference between professors and their students: their mindsets. According to Parsons, first year students see college as a way to earn a degree, while professors see college as a way to broaden minds and make the “world richer.”
Though Parsons is right about the fact that students arrive on many college campuses unprepared for the academic rigor of their next four years, I take issue with his characterization of students and faculty in this piece. Parsons depicts first year students, “freshman” as he calls them throughout his piece, as a monolith. A group that is a product of their unsuccessful schooling and uninventive, uncaring teachers. A group that passively accepted the test prep of their youth and will now have attentions spans “measured in nanoseconds.” According to Parsons, they come to college for credentials and want nothing more. His understanding of first year students is as uninformed as his use of “freshman” is dated.
Unlike Parsons, I teach primarily first year students...
Amanda J. Hedrick
Story collector, recipe enthusiast, educator, striving for a constant input and output of all things art and learning.