I am actually feeling pretty low right now. Despite having a lovely weekend and a very successful run in the President's Cup fencing competition (won 5-1, 5-1, 5-0, 5-0, 5-2 and lost one 5-2), one bad class has left me very gloomy indeed. First up was my 2 hours on social class and literature: pretty one-sided, but I think it went OK. But it was followed by seminar on media and the political economy which was utterly disastrous. Even the regularly talkative bright ones didn't know how the BBC and Sky were funded, hadn't heard about the phone-hacking, didn't care about concepts like the 'public sphere'. They don't watch news or documentaries. They're consumers of entertainment, and have absolutely no interest in being citizens. These are media students who by and large (there are exceptions) don't watch, read or listen to news.
I often write here about my students in fairly idealistic terms, and I'm usually right, but this is one of the those times in which I feel old and weird. They're not individually responsible for this state of consumerist apathy: it's exactly what hegemonic elites want from the populace.
The political class has won: the majority of my students either think government is something distantly done to them, or - as several have said to me - are content to assume that governments basically do the right thing and should be left alone by us and by the media. The idea that there's an Occupy generation radicalised by student fees, environmental degradation or the depression is fantasy.
So I'm feeling gloomy. I try hard to be enthusiastic and non-judgemental in my seminars, but when you're faced with total silence and blankness every time you pose a question or raise an idea, you have to know when you're beaten. If I'd thought they hadn't understood the lecture, we'd have had something to work with. Impenetrable indifference can't be beaten. Any tips? I gave up and sent them away after 45 minutes instead of 2 hours. The department will be penalised for not using or releasing the room, some of the students will feel short-changed, and I feel defeated, but it's better than a 2-hour hostage (lack of) drama.
*quoting Marvin the Paranoid Android. Most of my personality is a melange of Marvin, Arthur Dent, Jim Hacker and Mole.