From former Williams professor Mark Taylor:

Several years ago I was teaching a course on the philosophical assumptions and cultural impact of massive multi-user online games at Williams College. The students in the course were very intelligent and obviously interested in the topic.

But as the semester progressed, I began to detect a problem with the class. The students were working hard and performing well but there was no energy in our discussions and no passion in the students. They were hesitant to express their ideas and often seemed to be going through the motions. I tried to encourage them to be more venturesome with tactics I had used successfully in the past but nothing worked.

Not to be too rude, but maybe it is you not them? Are you as interesting as you were 25 years ago? As energetic? Are you as able to connect with students now that you are in your 60s as you were in your 40s?

But, wait! This is Mark Taylor. It can’t be him . . .

One day I asked them what was or, perhaps better, was not going on. Why were they so cautious and where was their enthusiasm for learning? They seemed relieved to talk about it and their response surprised me. Since pre-kindergarten, they explained, they had been programmed to perform well so they could get to the next level. They had been taught the downside of risk and encouraged to play it safe. What mattered most was getting into a good elementary school, middle school and high school so that they would finally be admitted to a top college. Having succeeded beyond their parents’ wildest expectations, they did not know why they were in college and had no idea what to do after graduation.

I would love to hear from some students in that class . . .

Every sentence in the rest of Taylor’s essay is either wrong or trite. Thorough fisking available on request.

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