Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau for January 23, 2011


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  1. Phil b r
    pbarnrob  over 8 years ago

    Many levels - simultaneously. Oh, is there a lecture going on, TOO?

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    ghehsv41  over 8 years ago

    Having been a college student back in the early 1980s, I can assure the good professor, electronic devices are not required to not pay attention in class.

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  3. Stewiebrian
    pouncingtiger  over 8 years ago

    The modern (non) education system.

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  4. Coolrlcrop
    Coyoty Premium Member over 8 years ago

    Given that this strip was done several weeks ago, GT was pretty good at anticipating the recent study showing that most students spend their college time socializing instead of learning.

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    ANQuixote  over 8 years ago

    I cannot understand why this sort of thing is tolerated in today’s college classrooms. Those who have recently taken college courses know that GT is not making this up. It is not only detrimental to the “students” who are doing it, but it is usually highly distracting to those who DO want to pay attention and get their (or their parents’) money’s worth in the classes. I would love to hear about professors and attentive students rising up and taking back their classes! Maybe we could even banish the ne’r-do-wells to the same external environs as the smokers now enjoy!

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  6. Nebulous100
    Nebulous Premium Member over 8 years ago

    That isn’t new. There may be more toys to distract them now, but not paying attention in class has been going on for as long as there have been parties the night before.

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    mblase75  over 8 years ago

    The problem isn’t that students aren’t paying attention in lectures. The problem is that lectures are an anachronism, dating from the days when college students didn’t have textbooks or printouts containing the exact same information.

    Lectures are a one-way delivery of information which are nearly replaced by books and now completely replaced by online video. Professors need to find a way to deal with the fact that while interactive classrooms are still useful, one-way lectures are archaic.

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    lb  over 8 years ago

    This is why I’ve banned texting and wireless access to the campus network in my classes. Discussion, and the ability to cogently contribute to same is 30% of the grade each student earns. A student may be a social networked, tweeting, texting, lump of distracted, indifferent, oatmeal in another class, but not in mine.

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    zathb Premium Member over 8 years ago

    It isn’t just in the classroom. If you watch a college basketball game, a LOT of the kids are paying more attention to their phone than the game.

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    randgrithr  over 8 years ago

    It’s tolerated because when corporations run your country, they only view college kids as just another target market - much like the rest of America. Thus, we are bombarded with movies and TV shows that create the “coming of age” mentality in both high school and college. Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Animal House.

    The advertising that comes hard on the heels of these shows stresses the priority of buying food, drink, clothing, cars, & entertainment-related items in order to maximize this “important time in your life”.

    Long term, the corporations aren’t interested in individual advancement so much as profits from under-educated sheeple who can continue to be manipulated and periodically shorn. America does not want it’s consumers educated - just obedient.

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    WaitingMan  over 8 years ago

    I remember when my differential equations professor showed the proof that e raised to the power of (pi x i) equals -1. It was like watching a magician at work. Filled up the whole blackboard. Well worth the price of admission. I feel sorry for anyone who wasn’t paying attention.

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    peter0423  over 8 years ago

    You have it backwards, randgrithr. Our society is “free” enough to let us indulge the human nature each of us is saddled with from womb to tomb, and to let businesses happily be our enablers. It’s not that corporations run the country, but that our baser nature runs both.

    Why “free” in quotes? Because you’re never more a slave than when you’re a slave to your own selfishness and laziness. We’re by far the richest, most technology-assisted society the world has ever known, and we’ve reached a point where we can indulge our inborn, infantile selfishness and laziness to a level that would have been instantly fatal before.

    Hard work and self-discipline don’t stand a chance against that, and I honestly don’t know how we’ll ever get them back as our core values — unless something happens so disastrously bad that it’s all ripped away from us and we have to start over. Either way, it’s not anything to look forward to.

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    WalrusWalter Premium Member over 8 years ago

    I picture the average college student as a walking collection of anxieties, so they fall back on video games, texting, and other non-activities to divert their worry from the future. And the entertainments heighten their anxieties, creating the ultimate consuming machine–insatiable appetite for entertainment, food, and action. At the same time, their critical faculties atrophy to the point that they are unable to view themselves as the victims of a capitalist system following its logical course. They lack the anger and frustration inherent in Tunisian youth their same age because they have just enough toys and distractions to keep them passive towards a corporate state destined to destroy them.

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    WalrusWalter Premium Member over 8 years ago

    I think most of us share the view that these 8 panels are quite disturbing. The real question I have is, are any of us intelligent enough or concerned enough to do something about it?

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  15. Tarot
    Nighthawks Premium Member over 8 years ago

    yeh, yeh, yeh. but how can you get good at shootin’ aliens if you don’t practice? the power of (pi x i) equals -1?? how does THAT get you to the next level in that shootin’ game?

    see? can’t answer that one , can you smartypants!

    and quit rolling your eyes

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    peter0423  over 8 years ago

    For those of you who insist that it’s all the fault of capitalism (or statist corporatism, or creeping socialism, or whatever your favorite demonic strawman might be) instead of looking hard into a mirror —

    What, specifically, would you change?

    If you would replace it all, what, specifically, would you replace it with?

    How, exactly, would you go about it?

    And keep it real — life gives no extra credit for vagueness or fantasy. If you can’t do that, you’re just blowing smoke and wasting everyone’s time.

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    freeholder1  over 8 years ago

    Wow, when did some of you go to school? There were keggers and parties from dusk to next dusk and distractions based on women’s body parts when I was there in the ‘60’s. Modern education system? Pinball and pool were the distractions back then, though you couldn’t play them IN class, yiou could sure fantasize and lose track. This isn’t modern education, this is HUMAN BEHAVIOR and lack of SELF-discipline. Common enough in teen and early 20’s guys from the dawn of time.

    i will grant it gets an acceleration from media, hype and corps. But the way to stop that is simply make them take manual notes and leave the media at home. Takes no great legal mind or ulterior motive to figure that out.

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    Dragoncat  over 8 years ago

    There was this one Grography/Economics teacher in high school. He had this smooth, volcanic rock he always kept on his desk.

    Why, you ask? Because if he heard so mush as a watch alarm go off in his class, he would take that watch and hold his pet rock over that watch, and bang the rock just millimeters away from it. After a few near misses, students stopped wearing watches in his class.

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    Redhead55  over 8 years ago

    Laurence Ballard, I applaude you.

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    odeliasimone  over 8 years ago

    SCAATY_423 I am with you 100%.

    It is these people like randgrithr who have been brainwashed inside our higher learning institutions against capitalism and the free market. There has never been a greater advancement of civilization than the free market, capitalist society, yet they are taught that socialism and communism are the way to go and that is what we are seeing happening to our nation right now. There will be no more freedom to live sooner than most think. If you think I am wrong, do some research. Not all things go through congress to become law. Look at what Obama’s Czars have enacted the week of Christmas for example.

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    jrholden1943  over 8 years ago

    This is a modern problem, not the technology, but having no goals in University. Many (but not all) go to college with no real idea about learning something valuable. Many parents find that they’ve invested $120K in an Ivy League College for their child to get a degree in Art History, or something else that provides no real prospects. Subsequently the young adult begins a life in retail or as a barrista with a $120K college loan obligation and wonders why life is so unfair?

    Meanwhile most of the creative software engineers that I know personally never went to college, but used their capabilities to become really proficient and valuable in their chosen field.

    This is not to way that a job as a Social Worker, or in a Non-profit isn’t valuable, but you really don’t need to rack up that type of college expense…..

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    cdhaley  over 8 years ago

    Most of these comments ignore the instructor’s question in panel 7: “What’s the thinking here?” That’s not a lecturer’s rhetoric; it’s a genuinely Socratic attempt to get a dialogue going. Unfortunately, this Walden instructor aimed the question at Zonker Harris, who is incapable of Socratic dialogue, much less concentrated reflection.

    Socratic learning—based on Socrates’ principle that true knowledge has got to be self-knowledge—is and has always been confined to the tiny minority who, like WaitingMan, possess active minds. For most students most of the time, surfing the internet at $175/hr. is the ideal way to get through a life that must seem full of “anxiety” to any brain too feeble to concentrate.

    Ps. @ Laurence Ballard: I tried banning laptops, but several of the best students protested that they needed them to take notes on our classroom discussions (I never “lecture” for more than five minutes).

    Now I just let the few daydreamers play with their cellphones while the rest of us engage in discussing literature and politics. My part is to provide students with the history they need to understand the text, on which they must write and deliver a short report every week. By the third week, the daydreamers have either dropped the class or joined it. . Pps. If jrholden thinks that earning a degree in “Art History . . . provides no real prospects,” I have to assume that he took no courses in art history or, if he did, that he slept through them.

    Getting a degree means joining the universal society of educated men and women. What higher “goal” can a “University” erect? If your goal is the more humble one of making money, or if you think a real education is a luxury you can’t afford, then you’re foolish to waste your time at a university. Leave liberal education to those who want to be truly free (liberalis).

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    Jogger2  over 8 years ago

    Some schools insist students have portable computing devices, such as laptops or notebook computers. For students who don’t have one, the schools offer some for rent.

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    Dtroutma Premium Member over 8 years ago

    My first “hand calculator” cost $120 and would add, subtract, multiply and divide. My Physics professor was the first to allow us to use one during tests to “speed up” simple math, not DO it for us. Now a $3 device will do complex math, and a college class that actually requires students to LEARN is shunned. When a society rejects a ten-year health care plan (“Obamacare” $760B) to cover all Americans that costs the same, less actually, as a 10 year contract on a weapon (F-35 $860B) that DOES NOT WORK, we should indeed ask about receiving much less than nothing for our money.

    Does this reflect an “education” problem?

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  25. Cathy aack  over 8 years ago

    Part of the key lies in the idea that for most of them, somebody else is paying for it – parents, scholarships, grants, etc. I have moved from teaching undergrads to grad students and noticed that when they are paying for it themselves, they do tend to pay more attention – and to rightfully demand more from their professors which I am more than happy to give them.

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    POPPA1956  over 8 years ago

    Reminds me of

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    Spaghettus1  over 8 years ago

    odeliasimone, you make it seem that you have never been on a college campus. This supposed “brainwash(ing) inside our higher learning institutions against capitalism and the free market”…..IS NOT HAPPENING. There is a great deal of “brainwashing” by the far-right to make many think such things are real, and to paint any who aren’t conservative as a commie. Of course, anyone who was truly educated knows that capitalism is the superior economic system. They also know that capitalism is only as good as the regulatory system that keeps it on track. Our recent woes are the result of those who haven’t learned enough to recognize THAT fact.

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    workingathome  over 8 years ago, I tend to agree with you. I paid my own way through college, no loans or anything. You’d better believe I paid attention!

    My husband wants to pay for college for our kids. With costs rising, I can see helping as our budget permits. You’d better believe I want my kids paying for their own college educations as much as possible. I won’t foot the whole bill.

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    ChukLitl Premium Member over 8 years ago

    There are a few who were paying attention & will build the next generation of toys for the slackers.

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    puddleglum1066  over 8 years ago

    Spaghettus1 said, 10 minutes ago: “…They also know that capitalism is only as good as the regulatory system that keeps it on track.”

    Indeed. I cringe whenever I hear a political leader or pundit say “we can’t regulate that; we must let the Market decide.” Right. By the same token, we must not have steering wheels in our cars; we need to let the car decide where to take us.

    Capitalism is a human creation, not some divinely ordained law of nature; it is a means to an end and not the end in itself; and we need to accept this fact and accept our responsibility to guide the process where we, as a nation, want it to go. Otherwise we should not be surprised when a very small number of people who know full well how the system works guide it in the direction they want it to go.

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    puddleglum1066  over 8 years ago

    Alabama_Al said, about 12 hours ago: “Having been a college student back in the early 1980s, I can assure the good professor, electronic devices are not required to not pay attention in class.”

    No doubt… I slept through many a fine lecture in college; on more than one occasion I woke up to find a professor six inches from my nose, screaming at the top of his lungs.

    But… technology is an amplifier, for better or worse. There were only so many ways you could distract yourself in a classroom thirty years ago. And many of them were even more boring than the lecture. Now, with computers, smartphones, etc., we have a much larger (and more interesting) universe of distraction available to our students.

    It’s interesting that scientific studies have shown how the ability to defer gratification (“if you don’t eat the one cookie now, I’ll give you two cookies in ten minutes”) is one of the most accurate predictors of a child’s ultimate success in life. As technology gives us more and more temptations to immediate gratification (you can learn something that will help you later in life, or you can play this cell-phone game now), I suspect this will turn out to be even more the case.

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    FriscoLou  over 8 years ago

    Palin, it’s Zipper Harris who is incapable of a “Socratic” dialogue, let alone spell it. Zonker Harris has slightly more gravitas, and is capable of having a higher dialogue with his plants.

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    Spaghettus1  over 8 years ago

    Ah, puddleg, you have either been to college yourself or you are quite the autodidact. The proper balanced view of capitalism is becoming rare.

    The “capitalists”, and in this case I refer to both proprietors of small businesses and the officers who guide corporations, are human like the rest of us. Most have good intentions, i.e., to make a good living by providing value to customers, and a decent living to their employees. These people are a tremendous asset to this country, and few, on the left or right, are bashing or attacking them. But, just like the general public, there are selfish jerks among the crowd. Without the policing of regulatory agencies, the honest entrepreneur doesn’t stand a chance. Those who break laws and play dirty will win every time. The greatest threat I see is those who “legally” get ahead by contributing and lobbying their way to special breaks. This promotes old, inefficient cash-cow industries at the expense of newer and more innovative businesses who can’t afford to buy their own Congressman just yet. In America in the 21st century, this is far more detrimental to the functioning of capitalism than any governmental over-regulation.

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    Spaghettus1  over 8 years ago

    To be on-topic for a moment.. there hasn’t been much mention of the greatest distraction for me.. the opposite sex. I managed to escape most of the problem during college classes by being an EE major at an engineering school. In the early 80’s, we were 90%+ male.

    With a 50/50 mix and the tight clothes worn today, I would need to record the lectures.

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  35. Caracal cub
    Nun'Ya Bidness™  over 8 years ago

    Last class I took, I had this complete jerk behind me, talking all kinds of vulgar trash and not letting me hear the proffessor. I never could make it into the class in time ot change my seat. Of course, it’s been a long, long time; we may have had assigned seats, so the proffessor would know who was there and who wasn’t. It was on the Air Force base, so they could do that.

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    Spaghettus1  over 8 years ago

    My sympathies, Teresa. I was the shy type who missed things while lost in my own thoughts. Intentionally disturbing a classmate is juvenile behavior that should have been handled by discipline while in grade school.

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  37. Caracal cub
    Nun'Ya Bidness™  over 8 years ago

    And he’s whisper so nobody else could hear him. I wish I’d had courage enough to just clobber him and scream Leave me alone! Or tell the proffesser everytime he did it, like 5 times a class at least.

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    SaunaBeach  over 8 years ago


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    gamrobi  over 8 years ago

    I generally found that a professor’s lecture could provide clarity that was lacking in a textbook.

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    jeanne1212  over 8 years ago

    Thank you, Lawrence Ballard .. your students have no idea how lucky they are.

    Whatever you sign up for - read: (1) the syllabus (2) all of the reading list (3) all of the ‘recommended’ reading list (4) anything you can find on the reference list.

    You just might end up educated.

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    jnik23260  over 8 years ago

    This doesn’t speak well for the Harris family. That they can continue to waste so much money in education for their slacker sons instead of spending it on themselves or helping some promising low - income kid earns my contempt.

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    salgud  over 8 years ago

    I did not pressure my kids to go to college, and none of them did immediately after high school. My oldest went to college a couple of years after, and graduated with honors in photojournalism. The two younger ones decided to go to college on their own, one at 29, the other at 25. They are both two years in, and both honor students.

    I’m not advocatiing that all kids wait, but my experience when I was in college in the late 60s, and watching my sons, is that a few years out, working in the real world and discovering for themselves that all they would ever have is a dead-end job, has made them very focused, serious, students, who simply don’t have time to waste at school. They all want to LEARN.

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    gpaulgar  over 8 years ago

    Reminds me; is anyone working or are we all tweeting?

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