Presently, my only really appalling students are the engineering apprentices, average age 19. They are all filthy scum though personable enough when approached individually; as a group, hellishly intractable and dull. The other day i was teaching them centuries, decades, years, and asked one “when did the First World War begin?” He looked faintly embarrassed and suggested “in the 30s?”

“No, that’s the Second World War. You know, Hitler. 1939 to 1945. But when did the First World War begin?”

None of them knew even the decade, though to be fair they felt it may have been sometime in the 20th Century. These kids are the dregs of the educational system but even so their ignorance astounds; it must be said, however, they know a great deal about the very latest action films, pornography, computers, mobile phones, and cars.

Yesterday, an email from a friend who teaches English Lit at one of England’s supposedly most exclusive universities:

I had a tutorial on Lear yesterday morning.The rain had been lashing down through the night. I said companionably to a damp student who had arrived early, ‘Well, at least you’re not stuck out on the heath.’ She turned to me blankly, and said, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you mean.’

i loathe the young.

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