University veterans often complain about a decline in the level – sometimes quite rightly so.
Anyone who occasionally has the opportunity to have open talks with lecturers will find that many of them believe that students today are less concentrated, more childlike and less resilient than in the “good old days” of their own studies. In addition, student complaints about growing “pressure to perform” are louder, and – thanks to social media – more widespread than ever before. There is also an increasing use of performance-enhancing medicines. How does this work?
Are we creating a student generation that is no longer able to complete their education but is at the same time mentally unstable and self-pitying?
It is clear that the educational methods have changed enormously: It is no longer “mercilessly sifted”, but the study is now available to more people than ever before. Not every student is suitable for a university career, often during a long orientation phase also purely “out of embarrassment” is studied. Another factor could be that the job opportunities are more diverse, life itself is more complex and more decision-making than in earlier times. Anyone who wanted to become an old historian in Germany around 1900 and to whom this path was openly faced an enormous pressure to perform and had to acquire extensive knowledge of ancient Greek and Latin. Frequently, the family’s savings and the occasional free time were sacrificed to the high goal of an academic career, so failure was not an option. On the other hand, the study materials had to be intensively penetrated, but often consisted of more static, memorizable knowledge.
Once a career path has been taken, it has usually been maintained throughout life – with a lot of work, but without constant innovations, without self-marketing – and without a constantly flashing and sounding smartphone.