Learning Is Supposed to Be Easy. Says Who?

October 26, 2022

I am not sure what a GenZ is. I do know that if I provide cash and change for a bill at a drug store or local grocery store, the person running the cash register looks like a deer in headlights. I have a premonition that if I had my Digital Infrared Thermometer, I could watch the person’s temperature rise. Many of these young people struggle to make change. My wife had a $0.50 cent piece and gave it to the cashier at the garden center along with some bills. The GenZ or GenX or whatever young person called the manager and asked, “What is this coin?”

I read “Intelligent.com Survey Shows 87 Percent of College Students Think Classes Are Too Difficult, But Most Fail to Study Regularly.” I know little about the sponsor of the research, the sampling methodology, or the statistical procedures used to calculate the data. Caution is advised when “real news” trots out data. Let’s assume that the information is close enough for horseshoes. After all, this is the statistical yardstick for mathematical excellence in use at synthetic data companies, Google-type outfits, and many artificial intelligence experts hot for cheap training data. Yep, close enough is good enough. I should create a T shit with this silkscreened on the front. But that’s work, which I don’t do.

The findings reported in the article include some gems which appear to bolster my perception that quite a few GenZ etc. cohort members are not particularly skilled in some facets of information manipulation. I would wager that their TikTok skills are excellent. Other knowledge based functions may lag. Let’s look at these numbers:

65 percent of respondents say they put a lot of effort into their studies. However, research findings also show that one-third of students who claim to put a lot of effort into their schoolwork spend less than 5 hours a week studying.

This is the academic equivalent of a young MBAs saying, “I will have the two pager ready tomorrow morning.” The perception of task completion is sufficient for these young millionaires to be. Doing the work is irrelevant because the individual thinks the work will be done. When reminded, the excuses fly. I want to remind you that some high-tech companies trot out the well worn “the dog ate my homework” excuse when testifying.

And this finding:

Thirty-one percent of respondents spend 1-5 hours, and 37 percent spend 6-10 hours studying for classes each week. Comparatively, 8 percent of students spend 15-20 hours, and 5 percent spend more than 20 hours studying.

I have been working on Hopf fibrations for a couple of years. Sorry, I am not at the finish line yet. Those in the sample compute studying with a few hours in a week. Nope, that time commitment is plotted on flawed timeline, not the real world timeline for learning and becoming proficient in a subject.

I loved this finding:

Twenty-eight percent of students have asked a professor to change their grade, while 31 percent admit they cheated to get better grades. Almost 50 percent of college students believe a pass or fail system should replace the current academic grading system.


Net net: No wonder young people struggle with making change and thinking clearly. Bring back the dinobabies even though there are some dull normals in that set of cohorts as well. But when one learns by watching TikToks what can one expect in the currency recognition department? Answer: Not much.

Stephen E Arnold, October 26, 2022


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