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Mick Temple's Blog

"THE KIDS OF TODAY...."

21-09-2007

As a Politics Professor at Staffordshire University, Mick Temple has heard all the clichés about modern students. And he knows the reality too ....

It's one of my favourite times of year - no, not that moment when you realise Stoke City are going to serve up yet another season of Neanderthal football (please Mr Pulis, football played on the ground and to feet is so much more effective than booting long balls to a big man - and also nicer to watch) or that the new Autumn television season includes yet another series of Last of The Summer Wine. How we'll laugh as they career down a hill in an old bathtub on wheels ....

I'm happy because the students are back, or in the case of first years, fresh-faced and here for their induction into adulthood - projectile vomiting, nascent sexual fumblings (mostly solitary) and a lifelong debt.

More seriously, I want to correct the popular image of today's students as less intelligent and less hard-working than students were 'in my day'.

'In my day' most students shunned lectures for nearly three years and then crammed into the night for the last month in order to pass their finals. Today's generation have a much tougher task.

They don't get a grant as I did - I was able to run a car (admittedly an ancient Hillman Super Minx) 'in my day' and receive unemployment benefit in the three holiday periods.

I didn't have to work for up to 25 hours a week and during vacation stacking shelves or working in a pub - I was usually on the other side of the bar downing pints of Courage Directors and trying to pluck up the courage to ask the barmaid for her telephone number.

Here on the journalism degrees at Staffordshire University, most of our courses require students to be continually assessed. If they don't attend, they get a rocket, and right from day one the importance of professionalism is stressed.

People from 'my day' moan about the lack of 'traditional' knowledge of our students - but in a post-modern world, the phrase 'as every schoolboy knows' (usually applied to dates of battles) is redundant. 'Google it!' is now the attitude to such mundane matters as historical facts.

By the way, did you know that 1588 is not only when Drake interrupted his game of bowls before sinking the Spanish Armada, it's also the telephone number of Linbury Court Preparatory School and the combination of Jennings' cycle lock. God, what trivia my overloaded mind contains.

Students today know so much more than I did at their age. They're more worldly-wise, more confident and much nicer: they tend to judge less and tolerate more.

They also perform an incredibly vital function for me. Their enthusiasm and zest for life help keep me young - and that's the main reason I love the first week of term so much.

Kids of today? They're great and we should be proud of them.

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