I didn't study!
Joanne Jacobs had an interesting little blurb the other day called Respect for Nerds. Her post dealt with a book by David Anderegg, and he complains about America's anti-intellectualism. In other words, we tend to portray smart people in the most negative possible light.
I certainly see Anderegg's point, but as a teacher, I see it as more than just anti-intellectualism. It's contempt for anyone who consistently tries to do the right thing. Although I haven't heard the term for a few years, the term kids in our school used to use for it was "preppy." For some, the greatest insult you could give other students was to say that they were preppy. "Preppy" referred to any students who tried hard in school, did their homework, studied for class, or just dressed nicely. Not surprisingly, the students who were most likely to call other kids preppy were those who never did anything positive.
I haven't heard the word "preppy" for awhile, but the attitude that brought that term about hasn't gone away. And that attitude is reflected by something that some students are anxious to say every time I give a test: "I didn't study." It always boggles my mind when I hear it, because the kids who say it always do it with pride. Students--at least the mediocre ones--can't wait to tell each other that they didn't study. And this is definitely not anti-intellectualism. In fact, their big fear is that if they studied--especially if other kids know they studied--there is the possibility that they might not do well on the test. And if that happens, well, that must mean that they are dumb. They'd much rather be viewed as not trying, because there's nothing wrong with that. Heck, being lazy is downright cool.
That is something I would to change.