Cutting our own throats.

19 01 2011

Via New Faculty Majority, here’s part of a must-read screed at Gin and Tacos:

You do not walk into college, 18 years old and brimming with all the worldly knowledge concomitant with that age, and tell us what we should be teaching you. If the students already know what knowledge and skills they need, then why are they in college? Ah. At last we reach the heart of the matter – they fundamentally believe that the educational aspect of college is little more than a tedious requirement. We are just gatekeepers standing between them and the fabulous, high-paying careers that await them on the other side. “I don’t give a crap about Literature or history or the rules of grammar; just give me my B so I can start making $500,000 per year in advertising or writing Golden Globes fashion articles for Vogue.”

You see, college isn’t about learning anything. It’s merely a multiyear party with a bunch of hoops to jump through, a set of obstacles between each Special Snowflake and the Good Life. And the more they whine about states’ efforts to impose some semblance of a well-rounded education, the more we change things to accommodate them.

While a lot of that quote (and the entire post for that matter) can be chalked up to a run-of-the-mill generation gap, it’s that last part about accommodating them that really scares me.

College is presumably valuable because students learn something in college. If we accommodate students so that they will keep coming to college and therefore learn nothing, nobody will hire them and they will eventually stop coming. Dumbing down the curriculum is in nobody’s best interests: theirs nor ours.


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20 01 2011
Historiann

Hear, hear!

Kicking a$$ and taking names is the only way to git ‘er done. And by the way: it’s more work for us too! But many conversations about academic labor and the cost of higher ed never want to recognize that. You and I could crank out 3,000-4,500 credit hours a semester by teaching 2-3 sections of 500 students each, only lecturing, requiring zero written work, and administering scan-tron quizzes and exams. That would be a lot easier than teaching 50-100 students a year how to read and write and think, but I doubt that it would have greater value.

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