June 9, 2011
Summer Reading: Our Narcissistic StudentsHeather Garretson (Thomas Cooley), Age Is More Than a Number: Viewing Our Students Through Generational Research (Concurring Opinions), reviewing:
- Jean M. Twenge & W. Keith Campbell, The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in an Age of Enitltement (Free Press 2010)
- Jean M. Twenge, Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled – and More Miserable Than Ever Before (Free Press 2006)
As any good lawyer knows, successful communication depends on knowing your audience. Are today’s law students really more demanding than ever, or are professors becoming part of the old get-off-my-lawn mind set? Are we sending law firms self-absorbed graduates who refuse to sacrifice a social life for a career, or are law firms hiring graduates who are simply more confident in vocalizing the need for a work-life balance? Many of the answers to these types of questions may be found by understanding the character of our students. Jean Twenge’s book, Generation Me (Free Press 2006) and the follow-up book with co-author W. Keith Campbell, The Narcissism Epidemic (Free Press 2010) examine the dominate age group of our students – twentysomethings. While the books are not about the character of law students per se, Generation Me is specifically about the character of those who make up a majority of our classrooms. As a disclaimer, I note that I too am(barely) a member of the group Twenge researches and names “GenMe.” As a member, reading Generation Me did more than educate me on my students’ influences and attitudes. It also revealed much about the forces that were likely influences on my personal and professional decisions.
Update: From Ann Murphy (Gonzaga):
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Without having read either of these books, it seems like this has a lot to do with social media, although I'm not exactly sure. Perhaps people are inherently narcissistic and things like Facebook and Twitter provide a medium for it to manifest itself, or maybe the ability to tell everyone everything about yourself encourages it. Not that I don't like either of these sites...really just an observation. Maybe someone could spin off a book about it.
Posted by: David | Jun 10, 2011 9:11:24 AM