We’re the stupid ones!

Most people working within education are probably familiar with the widespread notion, that during the recent decades, students have been growing less and less intelligent.

Students today, it is said, are simply dumber than they used to be.

To me, this is nothing but self-deception.

Using the “stupid students argument”, we keep reaffirming ourselves, that what we do is not the problem.

Students are.

We’ve been doing like this for years, so why should it suddenly be wrong? Isn’t it just a matter of trying harder? Of making students today understand, that they must align with our methods, our perspectives, our way of thinking?



Eactly because we’ve been doing like this for years and the world is not a static place.

However condescendingly¬†obvious and self-evident this may seem, we haven’t really accepted it in education.

Yes, we have acknowledged, that there’s something called the internet and that computers may have a contribution to make.

But we’ve been obsessively trying to apply ICT as tools to reach the same goals in more or less the same ways.

What we need is a radical change.

If students appear to be stupid, it’s because we force them into a structure, which frames them as stupid. A framework, where they’re not recognised as the humans and students they are, but as the humans and students we would like them to be. This image, this persona, is, however, a retrospect. It’s a thing of the past.

We (as individuals, as schools, as entire educational system) should be self-reflective enough to look inwards when we encounter problems. We have the power to redesign education, to make it relevant, and we should be willing to accept, that the responsibility lies with us.

Why don’t we dare to do that? Why are we so eager to blame the students?

Students are not the stupid ones.

We are.

Credits: Nick Dewar

2 thoughts on “We’re the stupid ones!”

  1. Interesting – I thought the "kids are far smarter than us" argument was the prevalent one – we move in different circles it seems.

  2. Both arguments are widely circulated.

    The "kids are smarter than us" probably stems (in part, at least) from Marc Prensky's notion of digital natives, and primarily relates to kids as superior to teachers regarding the use of technology. This, however, is increasingly contrasted by the idea, that kids are not just inherently experts, e.g. they're frequently lacking more reflective, critical, analytical perspectives etc.

    The "kids are dumber today" may be more of a unspoken argument in most cases, yet it's absolutely common, nonetheless. Basically, it's a conflict between "are we as a system right in doing what we do?", which makes the students wrong/stupid and we need change nothing, or "are we as a system wrong", which calls for radical change.

    I vote for the latter option.

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