Chris Piuma: Are your students representative of people (Americans?) (younger Americans?) as a whole?
Hmm, perhaps. Such a small sample to generalize from. Though from a small, safe, clean, monocultural university town (22,000 residents including students) eighty-plus miles from an interstate, they nonetheless share most of the cultural mechanics of other young Americans--MySpace, YouTube, mp3s, downloaded music, cable tv, video games, wikipedia... So like other high school students, they want what they want by the click of an icon.
But they also regularly take part in activities not common to other young Americans. Rugged mountains, whitewater rivers, forests virtually undisturbed by logging, just a short drive away, many of these young people have a larger, deeper connection to the outdoors (potential Whitmans?). Do those activities make them more patient for learning things not on the map? The jury's out.