Saturday, June 22, 2013

College as it should be: Let Them Fail

I heard on the radio today that some state--maybe Ohio, but I can't really remember--is going to start
imposing more "accountability," on colleges and universities in terms of their graduation rates.  And in true government fashion, the way they propose to do that is through . . . wait for it . . . funding!

The words 'government' and 'accountability' should never be used in the same sentence.  Hell, those two words should never be used in the same document, because we all know that American government--whether state or federal--has largely lost its sense of true accountability.  It therefore seems laughable to me that government officials want to impose accountability on American colleges.

There are very obvious reasons that this is a bad idea.  No Child Left Behind essentially plays with funding based on student performance, and that program has done absolutely nothing to help our kids receive better education.  In fact, all it has done is it has elevated high-stakes standardized testing to the chief method of assessment in schools across America.  The problem with that is that it essentially forces teachers to teach to the test, because if the school "underperforms" then they'll lose funding.

It would be a sad day, indeed, if higher education turned to standardized testing because of the government playing fast and loose with its purse strings, but I don't see that happening.  What I'm more afraid of is the inevitable decline of academic standards that will almost assuredly be a result of such idiotic meddling.  And of course, it's all in the name of "making sure more students graduate."

You know what I say?  I say "fuck 'em."

Yes, that's right.  Fuck 'em.  I raised two kids while I was in college, and I had to suffer through my marriage falling apart.  Despite all of that, I still managed to graduate summa cum laude.  I was in the top 5% of my class, and I was voted as best student by my professors in BOTH of my majors (history and political science).  I'm a smart guy, but I'm no genius.  It really isn't all that hard if you're able to read, write, and express cogent thoughts.

I know for a fact that my alma mater offered free tutoring services to students.  I know this because I tutored kids in college writing, history, political science, sociology, geography, and social work.  Although my professors had very high standards, they constantly lamented about being brow-beaten by the administration to not be so hard on their students, and for what?  All in the name of "making sure more students graduate."

That concept only leads to one thing: lowering standards.  Let's face it people: college is not meant for everyone.  It's not just another diploma, even though that's what a lot of morons think it is.  College is about serious-minded academic pursuit.  It's about a student coming to the realization that he or she actually doesn't know anything about anything, and working out a way to become better informed and more developed as a philosophical entity.  College is about achieving brilliance, not about meeting the minimum requirements.

"But Jack, given that college costs so much, wouldn't it be good for young adults to know that they're not just taking on a mountain of student debt for nothing?  Isn't it a pretty big gamble to pay so much money for something you might fail at?"  No, that would not be a good thing.

We're coddling our kids way too much.  We're telling them "you can do anything you put your mind to," even though we know it's not actually true.  We know we're lying to them.  So rather than watch our children come to the discovery that they might, in fact, be total dumbasses, we lower the standards so they don't have to feel like they're not all that smart.

All that does is turn college into a joke; truly just a somewhat more difficult extension of high school.  What we need to do is make college harder, and make more kids fail.  What we need to do is stop saying that "everyone should go to college," and get back to saying "college is meant for the truly dedicated and the brightest minds."

If we want college degrees to mean something again, if we want our children to receive the best education possible, then we need to stop lowering our standards just so no child has to feel like a dumbass.  College needs to be tough again, otherwise in 30 years the country is going to be run by a crop of idiots even dumber than the current lot.

24 comments:

Jersey McJones said...

I'm not sure what you're seeing in higher education in America these days, Jack.

Our university system is the finest in the world, attracting students from everywhere.

We personally - not through taxes or the government - pay out the nose for that education.

School, like any other institution, is what you make of it, and that is determined by your values. If making money is your thing, there are plenty of fields of study to choose from where you'll get your bang for the buck educationally, and you'll make money. If money is number one, you don't go to school for the arts, of any kind. This is why the "media" seems to lean toward the political left though the owners and sponsors do not. It's just reality.

The problem with our system - and this proves that increased spending improves education - is that it's very expensive. If anything, we as a people do not contribute nearly enough to our education. We waste our money on a ridiculous military, on 2.3 million people in jail, and on poor resource decisions.

We need to dramatically increase spending on the public school system, to prepare students so they can make the most of our top university system. Studies show a mediocrity among American students in the STEM fields, yet among the worlds top scores in abstract intelligence. This tells us we need to modernize our school system to a level of relevance for today's student and the future they're inheriting.

JMJ

Micky said...

And while were at it git rid of all the radical leftist professors.

Hell, I'm the perfect example of what you're talking about.
I spent two months in high school because it was a freaking joke only to be accepted at 16 by University of Hawaii at 16.
Now, you might think off the bat I'm some kind of genius to of grad with an assoc science at 18, but it was only because someone without even a GED could handle the curriculum.
To top it off,the math professor teaching cost control first said he lost my final paper. I raised hell with the administration and he then came back and said he found it and graded it a B+.
Only problem is I never handed the fucking thing in to start with, and only one out of every students ever even gets an A in that class.

Another example proving maybe that I'm pretty smart, or the system sucks, take your pick, would be my acceptance to the Iron Workers Union and being hired by Fontana Steel.
In order to be hired I needed a high school diploma. I asked why would they want that if I'd graduated college.
Didnt matter, you had to have the diploma or at least the GED.
So, years after graduating college with no high school behind me I took and passed all 6 GED tests (math, hist etc)with no high school studying or educating in any of the 6 areas

Micky said...

Jersey, pointing out the military does little to address a bloated inefficient college system.

Public schools need dramatic spending increases ?
You gonna pay for it ?
The states and fed are already bustin our balls at the bank !
How bout we start firing the idiot teachers who cant teach a 12 year old how to add 2+2 ?

Spend more money.
Cant say thats the most educated thing I've ever heard.

Jersey McJones said...

Again, Micky, by all measures the higher ed system is America is very good. The whole "leftist professors" thing is bullshit. Most of the professors are come off like anyone else, though it does tend to be that the more liberal you are, the more likely you are to want to teach and less likely you are to want to be a stockbroker or a corporate executive. So good luck with that bullshit.

Redirecting the money we waste on the military to education would go a long way to making it less expensive. I've seen stats that show that for the costs of every year of the Iraq war, every student in the country could've been put through a year of college or more.

Our priorities are not just wrong - they're literally stupid. Attacking teachers for our educational mediocrity is wrong and stupid.

And these stupid easy sleazy con ways of looking at things isn't helping at all. You get what you pay for in America, Micky. We shouldn't be cheap with our kids futures.

JMJ

Jack Camwell said...

Money is not the problem Jersey. We spend more per student than nearly every country on this planet, yet we still churn out idiots.

For example, Columbus City Schools is very, very well funded. The teachers are paid fairly well, and most of the public schools have all the latest in technology. But for some reason, the graduation rate in CCS district is somewhere around 65ish%. In fact, it's so dire, that the school district actually doctored attendance and grade data to reflect an improving student body. District officials are now being investigated for it.

Not to mention, any time a levy comes up to increase school spending, it's always approved by the voters. So why are we spending so much money and STILL failing?

Hannah Arendt articulated this the best. It's actually our sense of egalitarianism that screwed us over. American education sucks because the standards are constantly being lowered in public schools. And universities have to lower their standards as well or else they'll never have anyone attend let alone graduate.

Micky said...

Jersey, first, you can bet your ass "leftist professors" are a problem.
Any fool knows the majority of fed and sate funded campuses are havens for liberalism.
Secondly, weve been throwing money at this problem for decades and the best answer so far by your account is to continue the same failed policy.
I never said a better "anything" never mind ed system was not a good idea.
But your suggestion to divert military funding to our schools does not make it less expensive for anyone since our taxes will remain the same and once the colleges see the extra revenue coming their way they will raise tutions as they always have.
God forbid the left ever demand more expertise, work ethic and accountability rather than just bnaging away at the same ole mantra "MO MONEY ! MO MONEY !

" I've seen stats that show that for the costs of every year of the Iraq war, every student in the country could've been put through a year of college or more."

Yadda yadda...

You guys just dropped three trillion bucks to give us jobs that cost 250,000.00 ea.
Not to mention the last thirty years of money pissed away on green global warming shit.(recently called "climate change", better known as "weather")
If you guys knew how to run a business all the money you've wasted on education in the last 50 years could of put freaking Canada thru college.

My kid is about as smart as they come.
So dont even get me started on the shit I went thru with the state leading up to his graduation last month. Its quit a story.
What a clusterfuck of morons.
Seriously

Jersey McJones said...

Micky, we are not graduating idiots from our colleges and universities. You are wrong. Again, try to get it through your head, our higher ed system is the best in the world. That's why students come here from all over the world.

Our problem isn't graduating idiots - it's graduating Americans! We are not producing college-quality students. Our drop-out rates from secondary and post-secondary schools is atrocious. Why?

We still, STILL, to this day, teach the same way we have for centuries. With the same structure, curriculum, books, desks, and teacher. Today's society has advanced far beyond our primary and secondary schools. Our universities, however, are the most advanced on the planet.

You are looking at a problem that does not even exist, fussing over "liberal academia" nonsense, and making any excuse you can find to avoid facing the real problem - because to fix it would cost money, and it's money we have but waste on bullshit.

JMJ

Anonymous said...

The way biology courses are ran should be the standard of all higher education. Biology courses start off with the hardest concepts first, and if you can't hack it, you don't need to go on, because you are going to be a shitty biologist.

There is no magic bullet to education, more money is not the answer, people who give a shit are the answer. We outspend Japan 3:1 per capita and the Japanese children omnislash our children's ass in results.

Again, we lowered our standards hit exactly what we aimed at.

The only reason our technology is unmatched is the H-1B.

Micky said...

Anony;
"The way biology courses are ran should be the standard of all higher education. Biology courses start off with the hardest concepts first, and if you can't hack it, you don't need to go on, because you are going to be a shitty biologist."

Thats just plain stupid.
By your logic we should start med students at brain surgery and math majors at calculus.
If they cant cut that standard fuck em, right ?

Jersey, you seem to miss the point.
Theres no evidence that all the spending in the last 50 years has improved anything except for lining the pockets of union and state teachers.
Theres teachers that make more than your fucking president for crying out loud and they cant even get fired no matter how bad a teacher they are.

And really, why dont you think before you type.
On one hand you say our higher ed system is the best in the world, everyone from the planet comes here for it, and in the next sentence you say its out-dated and archaic , and then you finish by saying its the most advanced on the planet.

Make up your fucking mind.

Obviously, you're just babbling without a clue or you'd be able to point to some solution other than the one thats a 50 year old repeated failure.

Once again, whether you like it or not, its a fact that our state and fed subsidized colleges(madrassas) are most predominantly occupied by liberals, students or professors.
These are the morons creating curriculum that gives credit for studying the mating habits of fucking dinglberries, S&M, or some stupid shit like that.
The problem is that with enough money any freaking idiot can grad Harvard and then go on to be president without showing anyone his scores

Anonymous said...

Micky,

Don't play the Jersey game and twist what I am saying.

Biology majors first courses throws them into the deep end of the pool, where they are NOT expected to thrive, and barely survive.

They throw the big concepts at them immediately, such as celluar division, metabolism, and DNA and RNA synthesis. The courses are hard and require dedication to get through. Not a feat of impossibility like amateur brain surgery, but a lot of investment.

Only after this trial by fire do they get it all fleshed out, piece by piece.

Med school in fact is not too dissimilar and for a lot of it Biology is the pre-req undergrad path. It is difficult, then it tapers off, then ramps back up again, then you branch off into whatever you are going into and that's that.

To take an arbitrary subject and demonstrate it plainly:

They don't ask first year Biology students to clone sheep, they ask the first year students how is it possible to clone sheep.

Big difference.

IF you aren't willing to put your nose to the grindstone, you won't pass the course. Simple.

Chemistry follows a similar path, as does select few engineering degrees. The difference is, Biology is amongst the most popular majors, and is the root bulb of a lot of advanced degrees.

What does NOT follow this path are things like, Psychology, Business, Criminal Justice, Language, Education, Music, and Religion.

Micky said...

Sorry Anonoymous, but your approach still seems a little backwards.
I can understand setting the bar a little higher when determining placement or entry level.
But... as anyone knows, even in dealing with "concept" as you specified, its the general order to begin with concepts 101 before expecting any freshman to understand advanced concept.
One must play checkers to some satisfactory level before determining if they're worthy of a chess match.
Your system sounds like you just want to cherry pick the naturals with abilities far beyond that of the average IQ to be placed immediately and don't want to bother at all with younger lesser developed intellects but with excellent aptitude that can be developed.
Then again, I'm digressing a bit here.
One might think I'm twisting your words only because at points in your posts its debatable if you're for such a backasswards approach or whining about it.

Jack Camwell said...

It's not backwards, it's just how it's done to a certain degree.

Although they don't start out with the insanely hard concepts, what biology programs do is they inundate the freshman students with mountains of information.

Freshman biology courses are generally purposely made nearly impossible to weed out the undedicated.

Right or wrong, that is simply how it's done in universities today. That's how it used to be done in other majors as well.

The idea is that as you progress, the volume of knowledge decreases while the complexity increases. It's a way of getting only the best and the brightest in a field where only the best and the brightest thrive anyway.

Hand-holding does no good to the students.

Micky said...

Yeah sorry, call me an idiot, I dont give a shit.
The way its being explained to me is about the most retarded thing I've ever heard.
Not to say that you or anonymous is retarded, but the method certainly is.
Of course, if you start adjusting the presentation from its original appearance by saying "they dont start out with the insanely hard concepts" then the whole thing becomes subjective.
Anonymous gives the impression these majors should be put thru their final paper before even entering 101.
Which is why I drew the comparisons I did in my first response.
I always saw biography, and learning in general, as an evolutionary process. So, being exposed to more complex concepts of it right up front seems kind of counter-intuitive.
I feel sorry for the high schooler with A's in biology that doesnt survive this backasswards method

Anonymous said...

Ok, you read my thoughts, and clarification.

So, what is your approach hotshot? You explained a bit about what needs to happen, and we both agree money is not the issue, so what is. Either these kids want to learn or they don't.

Do we pat little Johnny on the head, point to a gutter and say "You will be there some day son, keep at it."

Do we let these bastards bird course and autopilot until they are juniors and then we slam them on the desk and make them bite the pillow? Taking their money letting them believe they are actually learning? At some point this shit has to get difficult for average joe, you tell me when is it the best time.

Yes, they do start off with the hardest concepts, the ones that really need your complete attention.

They really don't expect you to grasp it all, and that is the point. The point is you now know "hey, this is a son of a bitch, but this is what I want to do" or you know that "Holy shit, this is impossible, fuck this, I am going to take History of Jazz and AIDS awareness, I hear that AIDS professor is hot, lets go get drunk and make some bad fucking decisions."

There needs to be less dilution of the fucking product here, not more. Right now our degrees are starting to become god damn meaningless... everyone and their shit brother has one and it is a proof of NOTHING other than this degree wielder probably has a crushing ass student loan debt, had the modern day equivalent of the potato famine coursing through their bowels, and can sling the shit with 40 other people with the exact same qualifications.

I have actually ran businesses and had to hire people. Experience trumps education every time. I don't care about what you know... what can you do.

Micky said...

Yeah, I've run about ten businesses myself, and own my own, also raised two kids.
Where I come from learning is done in stages of difficulty for a reason.
You nurture good minds from the ground up.
Your system seems to simply want guaranteed candidates that can be thrown straight into the market.
Call it what you want.
As long as people are willing to work for what they want they should be allowed that path.

"Hot Shot" ?

Shit, not really, its pretty basic.
But it seems according to you I should of accepted the concept before you tried to explain it to me

Micky said...

I always thought once you got past dissecting the frog you were home free !

:-)

Jack Camwell said...

Like it or not, that's how college level biology **currently** works.

They're still building a foundation, but they do it in a different way.

There's a couple of reasons that this is a good thing. The first reason is the fact that to do anything with a biology degree, you have to be fairly amazing or you are going to move on to get a graduate degree.

The job market is extremely tight for biology majors, and the only people succeeding are the best and the brightest. So really, university biology programs that operate in the way Anonymous Howard Beale and myself have described are actually doing those freshmen biology majors a favor. If they can't hack it, then they need to pick a different major. There's no sense in molly-coddling them through the courses just so that they ultimately fail once they get out into the world.

Every subject requires a different approach. You can't teach biology the same way you teach history. You can't teach chemistry the same way you teach English Literature.

The fact is, biology has a *gigantic* knowledge base required to do anything of consequence. If each student were allowed to take their time, then it would take many of them YEARS to master just the basic knowledge. So in college BIO 101, they inundate you with all of the basics.

It's not that the concepts are advanced--that is saved for later--but it's that you are given hopelessly impossible AMOUNTS of information to commit to memory. ANd the reason for that is, as I said, because the base knowledge required is itself a hopelessly impossible amount.

It's okay that you don't think that's effective: that's why you're not a college biology major. It's not particularly my cup of tea, so I didn't major in biology.

Micky said...

I'm not doubting what it takes to major in biology, and certainly not asking for anyone to be coddled.
I believe people are able to learn if they want to,and given the chance even concepts.
Yeah, I'll admit, the prerequisites for even been a veterinarian were a bit overwhelming for me.
But I soon learned once in the field that even managing staffs of a hundred plus "individuals" in the restaurant biz to some concerted result was just as challenging.
To the point.
Seems to me if the knowledge base is so large and committed to memory you'd want to spend your first couple years exercising just that and then continue to the more demanding.
Isnt there some way to make these students realize what they're in for without throwing this daunting gauntlet at them up front ?
Seems like you're expected to fuck before you know how your genitals work.
Although its a very ominous amount of knowledge to retain it still doesn't seem a logical method of progression.
But hey, I guess we'll have to leave at "I think its stupid" and "you guys understand something I dont"
I'm more concerned with the inefficiency and the money spent being inefficient, and those who think more money is always the solution.
The "tossing more money at it" logic seems even dumber to me than what they put biology majors thru.
Those that hold that logic shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a campus.

Jersey McJones said...

Nobody is talking about throwing money. That's simple talk. But if you think it won't cost money to improve our educational achievement, than you're a fool.

JMJ

Jack Camwell said...

Jersey, did you completely ignore the example I gave about a well-funded school district that STILL has droves of underperforming students?

Please tell me how spending more money on kids who simply don't give a shit about their education is going to solve anything.

THis is what you and so many democrats completely fail to acknowledge: in most cases, it's the students' fault for failing. 90% of the kids that fail simply don't give a shit.

Anonymous said...

The issue with k-12 is simply the parents are relying on the school way too much to educate their children.

I would rather put my stock in 10 children from the ghetto who had a sincere desire to learn and a thirst for knowledge than 10 silver spoon brats who have a fucking McDonald's in their middle school.

We have thrown money into this black hole, metric shit tons of money. Where are the results? Why don't other countries around the world have to pour money into a bottomless fucking pit. What are they doing that we aren't? They don't have the money to fucking spend for starters, so that's out.

What exactly are you proposing we spend this money on?!

Micky said...

"Nobody is talking about throwing money. That's simple talk. But if you think it won't cost money to improve our educational achievement, than you're a fool."

Sorry, but you're the fool.
You espouse these extra expenditures while in the same breath are saying they haven't got us anywhere.
First you have to consider the overwhelming evidence showing what we have spent, then consider your own statement " We are not producing college-quality students. Our drop-out rates from secondary and post-secondary schools is atrocious. Why?"

Because the work ethic factor, accountability factor and ability to hire and fire teachers on merit are non existent.

Its not about more money.
Its about using less money and making what funds you've got more effective.
See if that concept can float in your head without it exploding.

Jack Camwell said...

Micky, the problem is not the teachers themselves. Yes, there are some teachers who are just terrible, but most of them are good.

The problem is simply the kids and the fact that there are too many parents who don't care enough to push their kids to achieve. If merit were brought into it, then 80% of the faculty at Marion Franklin High School here in Columbus would be fired every single year.

The kids there are just plain terrible and they simply do not care about their grades. Firing teachers because of awful students is not a good idea.

I'm sure that Jersey will flip out when I say this, but the biggest problem is the massive welfare state.

These kids know that they don't have to amount to shit in their lives, because they see their parents supporting them on a government check every month.

Micky said...

Your absolutely right Jack.
I completely forgot my next paragraph which would of gone to parenting and the kids.
I'm not saying firing teachers because of crappy students is a good idea, I'm saying fire teachers who are crappy and keep being paid well to be crappy because of union cornucopia.
Be nice though if teachers actually still had the authority to literally throw the assholes out their classrooms.

My son, a very very bright young man, just grad from high school.
The stories of the incompetence I've suufered at the hands of are staggering and would overwhelm the thread.
He has great sensibilities motivation and direction.
In a nutshell, the best way to summarize all the horror stories...

"you dont do my job and I dont do yours"

I got that kid thru high school, not his teachers.