Professor Constance Kassor at Lawrence University in Wisconsin is reporting that her course has the highest enrollment in the university. She said that “this should tell us something about the current state of college students.” Indeed it does. Students have changed little. Kassor’s course “Doing nothing” gives credit pass/fail in a course that requires literally nothing beyond showing up: no paper, no assignments, no exam. Surprise: it is very popular.The Appleton Post Crescent, reported that the religious studies professor designed the course to help students deal with anxiety that they are not being productive. The idea seems to be to reduce that anxiety with a syllabus requiring no productivity beyond coming to class and hearing views on subjects ranging from tai chi, sleep habits and mind-body awareness.
It is not clear if Dr. Kassor thought that this would be a hard sell but she is reporting that it turns out that students like a course that requires nothing.
Frankly, I do not have a serious objection to a one-credit course on anxiety or stress relief if it is graded pass/fail. However, I am not sure how you fail such a class beyond simply not showing up. You are not actually required to relax if you are that gunner in the class.
Kassor is quoted as saying “This actually allows for students and for all of us to be deeper thinkers, to be more creative, to be more productive workers, to be better at our jobs.” Again, I am not sure that this is an avenue for deep thinking but it does show that college students remain rational actors.