Last week I was visiting with a couple of former colleagues who are now professors, and they were expressing somewhat of a disappointment in many of their students’ (college age, remember) inability to think and take initiative beyond the verbatim task at hand. This is in line with some of the grumblings of late that the generation starting to enter the workforce generally lacks the drive, motivation, and “fire” to problem solve. Whether this is true or not, that battle can go on forever, but I did find this story by one of the professors quite shocking.
Where do I get soda cans?
Taken at face value, and paired with an image of younger children, this doesn’t seem like a ridiculous question (disclaimer: the particular kids pictured above would have no issue whatsoever in figuring out how to find soda cans for the challenge I’m about to describe!).
However, given the context that this question was asked by college students at a university with near perfect SAT score admission requirements, it’s a bit ridiculous. The assignment for the students was to build a robot that would carefully stack (or unstack) aluminum soda cans. A pretty straight forward project, right?
Turns out while most of us would consider the ROBOT part the least straightforward of this assignment, the class as a whole was entirely confused and frustrated on how they were possibly going to get soda cans. Yes, as I understood the story by my professor friend, his students were nearly paralyzed by the prospect of finding a way to get soda cans. How could they be given an assignment where they had to go out of their way to find soda cans???
While somewhat comical, there is a sadness I certainly had around the lack of can-do, out-of-the-box, get-it-done-no-matter-what attitude in this story. And it’s stories like this that make me re-inspired to continue promoting what we do at iCreate.