Thanks for bringing up an important issue. I’m troubled, however, by dividing students into two categories: those who care and those who don’t. I’m confident that very few people truly don’t care in any general sense, and those who are so damaged as to not care have issues far beyond the scope of the classroom. Rather, most people do care. They are motivated to connect to the world of things and ideas outside themselves; however, they may not be motivated to connect to whatever I’m bringing to the classroom.
The issue for me, then, is more the mismatch between my students’ desires to connect and what I, or the curriculum, wants them to connect to. Almost all my students want to connect to certain people, ideas, skills, and professions, but most of them do not want to connect to academic writing, the subject I happen to teach. Schools are not adept at, or even interested in, identifying students’ existing interests and playing to those interests. We should be. There is great capital in students’ interests and desires for connection, and we are squandering it.