The hubster just finished his first week of the fall semester, but he’s already reported a multi-student cheating incident. He had an extra textbook to give away, so he decided to offer it to the student who could tell him Shakespeare’s birthdate, or get closest to it. One student instantly looked it up on his phone, and several nearby students copied his answer.
I’ll spare you the CSI details, but when my husband had his little chat with the chief defrauder, he was struck by how blasé he was. Textbooks are expensive, and he could really use a free one — he has two kids to raise by himself — therefore, he’d merely done what was necessary. Surely his English professor couldn’t have any issues with that??
I thought of the free textbook incident when reading this blog-post by Donald Miller about the decline of a universal moral code leading to a decline in storytelling. It’s a provocative thesis in our relativistic world, but it’s really exactly what we ought to expect when the concept of a universal and timeless moral code is about as welcome as a mink coat at a PETA rally. Miller quotes Robert McKee:
The final cause of the decline of story runs very deep. Values, the positive/negative charges of life, are at the soul of our art. The writer shapes story around a perception of what’s worth living for and what’s worth dying for, what is foolish to pursue, the meaning of justice, truth-the essential values. In decades past, writer and society more or less agreed on these questions, but more and more ours has become an age of moral and ethical cynicism, relativism, and subjectivism – a great confusion of values. As the family disintegrates and sexual antagonisms rise, who, for example, feels he understands the nature of love? And how, if you do have a conviction, do you express it to an ever-more skeptical audience? This erosion of values has brought with it a corresponding erosion of story.
And so I’m wondering — can a values-impaired student think outside-of-the-box, to use the cliché du jour, and gain an understanding of why values are . . . um . . . valuable? If the only take-away from his first week of school is that he hasn’t quite mastered the surreptitious use of the “smart”phone, what will be his take-away from, say, “Dog Lab” by Claire McCarthy, or Frankenstein? And speaking of Frankenstein, as our elites shred the universal moral code in the name of creating a better and more advanced society, at what point will they realize that they may be creating a monster of their own?