Forget our Children–Our Almost-Adults “Isn’t” Learning

Conclusion: college courses are too *&@! easy.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2011-01-18-littlelearning18_ST_N.htm

On a slightly more sophisticated note, I think this is a scathing indictment of the way we approach careers, and a sobering challenge to us to think about what college was really designed to do.

In the past, college was a training ground for the elite; the extra-smart, extra-gifted people who were qualified for–and needed–what was rightly called “higher” education. Then, somewhere along the line, somebody decided that in such a wealthy society, it was a shame if everyone didn’t go to college. So the vast majority of colleges were forced to educate people who were frankly unqualified to attend. To cope with this, they dumbed down their curricula, created fluffy majors, and hired a lot of fools with Ph.D.s.

As a result, millions of well-meaning parents pay thousands of dollars to waste their kids’ time. And millions of kids get degrees who aren’t qualified to hold a job in the white-collar workforce they’ve been told is their birthright, and who are too proud to hold a job in the blue-collar workforce for which they could have spent the last four years being trained. And the “elites” for whom higher ed was designed are forced to go an extra $100k into debt to get a master’s degree or Ph.D., to distinguish their qualifications from the rest in the way that college was supposed to do.

Some highlights from the USA Today article:

“Nearly half of the nation’s undergraduates show almost no gains in learning in their first two years of college, in large part because colleges don’t make academics a priority, a new report shows.”

•35% of students report spending five or fewer hours per week studying alone. Yet, despite an “ever-growing emphasis” on study groups and collaborative projects, students who study in groups tend to have lower gains in learning.

•50% said they never took a class in a typical semester where they wrote more than 20 pages; 32% never took a course in a typical semester where they read more than 40 pages per week.

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