Posted by: nickgerlich | June 10, 2008

Culture Club

My, how times have changed.

Yesterday I had to do something I thought I would never experience as an educator. I had to sit through a university-mandated 2-hour seminar on Managing Disruptive Behavior, created by a new committee called the Behavioral Intervention Team.

In case you haven’t noticed, things are different now in American culture. And it’s not all good news. According to stats the BITeam provided, since 1988 the incidence of college students suffering from depression has doubled, suicidal ideation has tripled, and sexual assaults have quadrupled.

Hey, whatever happened to the 1950s? You know, when Wally and the Beav were running roughshod over Mayfield.

CookiesLeave It To Beaver ran from 1957 to 1963, and epitomized American culture at the time. I have heard it said that life imitates art, but in this instance, I would say it is the other way around. LITB mirrored the way it was.

And now we have to take seminars in how to handle classroom problems.

This culture shift is becoming more and more pronounced to me as I near my half-century birthday. No, it’s not the wrinkles, thinning and graying hair, nor slowing metabolism that bother me. It’s the fact that we have become more indulgent, absorbed, and inwardly focused. And I am just as guilty of it as the next guy.

Marketers have obliged us with everything we need to live this life of self-adoration. Starting with Sony’s Walkman in the early-80s, and culminating in Apple’s iPod today, we can tune in and turn on with our own playlists, subjected no more to the whims of radio station programmers who force-feed us the musical pablum of the day.

Truth be known, I really do not mind the fact that culture is in a continual state of change. Even if I do not necessarily like some of the artifacts, we cannot live in a monochromatic Pleasantville, even if only in our minds. And as culture changes, so too do our needs and wants. Marketers stand in the thick of this, and try to sell us ever more of the doodads and gadgets that will supposedly make our lives easier in the fast-paced 21C.

Just don’t misuse them in the classroom, OK?

Dr “Paradigms Are For Shifting” Gerlich

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