reply to post by prestonposthuma
I don't disagree with anything you said. I spent most of my life in the business world, eventually founding and running my own corporation. As a CEO,
I frequently heard from other CEO's that todays colleges are not providing students with the skills that they need to survive in the business world.
When I retired from the business world, I decided to teach at the college level. Within a year, it became obvious to me why our colleges are
I've posted the reasons on other threads. Let me just take some of the points that I made there, and summarize them here.
The students were coming in, with poor skills in all areas. Instead of being able to teach new material, the first 4 or 5 weeks were spent just
getting the basics down. You are right- they don't know how to research or think on their own. I had several of them tell me that when their teachers
reviewed for a test, they gave them the questions and the answers! No research needed, no thinking, just memorize the information for a day or two,
spit it out, and forget it as soon as it's over.
A tool I would use to encourage research, was the give them a general question that was going to be on the test. It would force them to do some
research, and UNDERSTAND the issue. They also knew that there would be multiple versions of each question, and the questions required relatively long
answers, which involved explaining WHY they gave the answer they did. I also spent a good deal of time in class discussions, to encourage the thought
process. For many topics, I would break them into groups of 3 or 4, to encourage teamwork. I found that worked very well. It is certainly more work on
the teachers' part, and several of my colleagues told me they wouldn't do it, because it was too much work. My answer to them, was that if they felt
that way, they shouldn't be teaching. Many of them gave scantron tests, and had machines grade them. God, how can you get to know your students that
I detest government programs that base everything on standardized tests. All it does is encourage some teachers (not all) to "teach to the test".
One of the encouraging things that I experienced, though, was how eager students were to learn, once they were given the tools, and a chance to really
learn, not memorize. I used to take current items from the news(not just politics, but items like new technologies, business items, etc), items that
at first glance, they would not think had any impact on their lives. I would then make the connections to their lives, and show them how such things
really DID affect them. After awhile, they caught on, and then it became fun. They actually looked forward to discussing current events, especially
when they knew they affected them. The next step was getting them to take action to CHANGE those things that they didn't like. I never told them what
to believe. I think that professors that do that, again, are doing a disservice to the students. Students need to think on their own. I did tell them
how to contact their congressional representatives, how to lodge a consumer complaint,and how to register to vote. I never consciously told them how I
felt about politics, although I'm sure that some of them could deduce that, but that's ok, because again, that means that they are learning to think
on their own.
Again, student reaction was very positive. Many of my "colleagues" however, had a different view, namely that since the students were telling them
how much "FUN" my classes were, I was just playing games. I would respond by telling them that people(including students!) learn more when they are
enjoying it. No one said that learning should be drudgery. By the way, I don't think that my techniques were great, they were just common sense,
something unfortunately that many educators have in short supply.
I guess that it is rather obvious how I feel about who bears the greatest responsibility for the dismal shape of education in our country today. There
are certainly a lot of great teachers and professors out there, but there are also many that fall far short of what is needed to turn this thing
Memories should be for family, spouse, children, nice times, not memorizing dates. Why should students have to memorize dates, when they can look them
up. Why should people have to memorize facts and figures, when we have world almanacs? What they should know how to do, is WHERE to find the
Let me let you in on a dirty little secret. It's the Curriculum Committee. People wonder why schools teach what they do. The answer is that a group
of professors on the Curriculum Committee decide on what the curriculum should contain, then put it up to a vote of the department faculty. Majority
wins. You think the democrats and republicans have smoke-filled back rooms? You should see the curriculum process!
First of all, some of the professors are just down-right lazy. They want to do as little work as possible with their classes, so that they can spend
their precious time writing research papers. If they can find textbook vendors that supply all of the material that they need- such as powerpoint
presentations, tests, answers , grading software, that's a sure way to make it into the curriculum. That way, they don't even need to UNDERSTAND
what they're teaching! And we expect the STUDENTS to understand.
Next, there is the trading of a left-handed pitcher for a centerfielder, or more appropriately "I'll support your new class, if you support mine".
Never mind if the class is something like "The sexlife of the spotted slug".
Then there is the "You can't put your class in there because there aren't many other schools teaching it". One of the things you have to
understand is that most academics are FOLLOWERS, not LEADERS. When they develop a new curriculum, the first thing they do is google other similar
institutional curricula, and try to copy whatever they do,as a start.
Now that's a sure way to make sure that the colleges stay about 10 years BEHIND the curve! Furthermore, these are the SAME professors that will
charge students with PLAGIARISM! I wonder where the students learned how to plagiarize?
Then there is the obsession with Bloom's taxonomy. For those not in academia, a quick summary-
When classes are devised, there are a list outcomes or competencies that a given class must produce, such as "Be able to understand a business
or "Be able to construct a business plan".
Most people understand that the first item requires less skill than the second. The competencies involve verbs (understand and construct) and nouns
(business plan). Blooms taxonomy assigns "levels" to each major verb- typically 100, 200, 300 and 400 levels. 100 level (typically freshmen )courses
should have competencies that are mostly 100, etc. In theory, that makes sense, and the spirit of the taxonomy, I have no problem with. Unfortunately,
many times, the focus becomes the verbs themselves, and the material doesn't really reflect the level of skill. In other words, they may REALLY be
teaching a 100 competency in a 400 level course, but they've fooled the committee by cleverly using a 400 level verb.Again, with the "buddy" system
they use, committee members wink and pass the course, knowing that the outsiders that enforce the rules of curriculum development, don't have a clue
as to the technical meaning of the competencies.
The problem is that we get shut down by the unions. Unions want all teachers and professors(yes, there are many state colleges that have unions- I was
at one) to be dependent on them. That means that those of us who tried to go beyond the "union level" were making "it bad for the rest of the
members". If we tried to do more in class, then we were breaking union rules. I did anyway, but it was not easy. I made many enemies, and had to
constantly watch my back.
In fact, many of the junior and senior classes that I ran, went along those lines. Students would create projects that were self-directed, and my job
would be to guide them and encourage them. By the way, my students had no problem getting very good paying, rewarding jobs, because of the contacts
that I maintained in the business world, prior to teaching. The reservation (in my up to a point) is that unfortunately, firms want people with
degrees. Now before you jump, understand that I don't believe that a degree means anything, unless you look at the student and the curriculum, and
the LACK of a degree does not mean that the person would not be a great worker. The sad reality is that most firms prefer the degree, because it
allows them to convince themselves that they just made a "good hire". I would take a great worker WITHOUT a degree over a mediocre worker with 3