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E-Male

Your Education Sucks

Rating: 2 votes, 1.00 average.
And it may be your own darn fault. That is if you are the typical student that drifts through college or university and barely puts in any effort (ten years of teaching now and I see it all the time . . .).

Consider this from the NYTs:

"Over four years, we followed the progress of several thousand students in more than two dozen diverse four-year colleges and universities. We found that large numbers of the students were making their way through college with minimal exposure to rigorous coursework, only a modest investment of effort and little or no meaningful improvement in skills like writing and reasoning."

The simple fact of the matter is that many students come out of college and university just as ignorant and unskilled as when they went in:

"a large number of the students showed no significant progress on tests of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing that were administered when they began college and then again at the ends of their sophomore and senior years. If the test that we used, the Collegiate Learning Assessment, were scaled on a traditional 0-to-100 point range, 45 percent of the students would not have demonstrated gains of even one point over the first two years of college, and 36 percent would not have shown such gains over four years of college."

The dumbest generation, as one writer has suggested?

Perhaps so.

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Updated 05-18-2011 at 08:49 AM by E-Male

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  1. SharinganTH1422's Avatar
    The dumbest generation, as one writer has suggested?

    Perhaps so.
    So you've been teaching for 10 years and and have seen that..
    the typical student [...] drifts through college or university and barely puts in any effort
    Are you under some sort of illusion that if you had been teaching for 10/20/30 years before that then you'd have seen the typical kid being enthusiastic about learning and not about sex/drinking/drugs/porn/internet/ipods/iphones/ipads/facebook/video games/TV/music/partying?

    Or at least those from the list that were around.
  2. E-Male's Avatar
    If you look more closely into the issue and the data available you might see that it is a matter of decline brought on by a cultural shift.

    It is not merely 'more of the same thing but a bit different'.

    Read the NYTs article for details.
  3. SharinganTH1422's Avatar
    The article talks about legislation and institutions being at fault for slips in standards, while your blog post seems to somehow draw the conclusion that students are dumb/lack motivation and that's the problem...

    So, care to rephrase?
  4. Skud's Avatar
    First off, New York Times.

    Second, no, my generation is not stupid.
  5. E-Male's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Skud
    First off, New York Times.

    Second, no, my generation is not stupid.
    Verry interesting.
  6. devaZtation's Avatar
    I guess you could compare students to electrons and resistance
  7. Skud's Avatar
    Do you teach a primary or an elective?
  8. E-Male's Avatar
    Some students are obviously very bright (smarter than me...), some are very very dumb, and most are just average (that is what they find the hardest to accept -- that their work is just average).

    Pretty well EVERY professor I discuss this with agrees in general that there is a severe problem with the work ethic among undergrads, significant problems with laptops and cell phones, and general problems with reading, writing, and reasoning skills.

    Of course students are not the only ones to blame. State's education policies, the consumer mentality (both issues addressed in the article), technology in the classroom, and pop culture contribute.

    We end up with kids that cannot see why the New York Times might be a better source of news than Fox.

    Updated 05-16-2011 at 04:51 PM by E-Male
  9. Skud's Avatar
    I don't get my news from FOX. You bring this up EVERY single time. E-Male, seriously. I don't even watch Television aside from shows I stream on Netflix. I've never even watched FOX News.

    I dislike NYT because they have their heads so far up their butts they refuse to publish anything but the left. They're a joke, not only to me, but to many others.

    Do you teach an elective? The reason I ask is because students may not take electives as seriously as they do courses towards their majors. For example, you may have a Biology major in one of your classes who you think is "dumb" and apathetic. They may just focus on their major more than your lecture...
  10. DrBeat's Avatar
    Self motivation. Some people lack it. I see it every day (I'm an expert, I attend public high school).

    If someone wants to be skilled and become learned, then they will.
  11. SharinganTH1422's Avatar
    E-male, I can't be bothered to tell you the reasons behind why this blog post - and your responses to the comments - are BS.
  12. SharinganTH1422's Avatar
    Actually I have some time to kill, as all people at my age do because we're a bunch of lazy bastards.

    First of all, you say suggest that pupils of this generation are "perhaps" dumber and more lacking in motivation than previous generations. Then you post a bunch of quotes taken from an article about pupils being lacking in particular skills when they finish education and who do not push themselves to higher levels. After you tell me to read the article to understand the points that you're making about lack of motivation, I was expecting an article to go on and on about how pupils these days are terrible compared to the saintly, scholarly students of old. However it becomes clear the article is doing the opposite of blaming students, instead blaming legislation and institutions. The reasoning and other tests were not given to previous generations so no comparisons can be made on that front, while stating that pupils do less work nowadays to pass simply means the minimum workload is being reduced (as the article suggests). So how did you come to the conclusion that this article is implying that students are rubbish? And why take quotes out of context to put your own point forward? That's either maliciously misleading or ridiculously stupid.

    Of course you say that all the professors you talk to say that students suffer from a lack of work ethic, probably true, but that's not a statement on this generation compared to other generations, they have said that about undergraduates in general (at least that's the suggestion from how you've written it). Although, I have an uncle who's worked as a teacher for over 20 years and says that pupils are more eager to learn than ever before. It's crappy anecdotal evidence, but if it's good enough for you to condemn an entire generation of people, it's good enough to refute your bad point made badly.

    P.S.

    The dumbest generation, as one writer has suggested?
    Who is this "writer" and why do I care what he thinks?
  13. E-Male's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Skud
    I don't get my news from FOX. You bring this up EVERY single time. E-Male, seriously. I don't even watch Television aside from shows I stream on Netflix. I've never even watched FOX News.

    I dislike NYT because they have their heads so far up their butts they refuse to publish anything but the left. They're a joke, not only to me, but to many others.

    Do you teach an elective? The reason I ask is because students may not take electives as seriously as they do courses towards their majors. For example, you may have a Biology major in one of your classes who you think is "dumb" and apathetic. They may just focus on their major more than your lecture...
    I never said you are a FoX listener, they are just a convenient example.

    As to the NYTs being a joke, well that is simply ridiculous. It is left, it is flawed, but calling it a joke is simply wrong -- they represent one of the world's best standards in news production. If you fail to recognize this you fail to understand much.

    Making such sweeping, and downright fallacious claims, delegitimates ones position considerably. It is the equivalent of talking nonsense and expecting to be taken seriously.

    I cite the NYTs as an example of come student's inability to distinguish between different levels of legitimacy -- it is not an absolute standard, as it is well known that it was the NYTs that Chomsky used as a primary example for constructing his thesis on manufacturing consent -- the NYTs is propaganda, it is also good journalism. So do not assume that I or the left in general equates the Times with truth.

    There are not many journalism profs worth their salt that would dismiss the NYTs as a joke. Such an attitude says much about the state of populism and anti-intellectualism today.

    I teach required and non-required courses, and am well aware of the many different types of students before me and the variety of motives for taking the courses.

    You must realize that I speak in generalities above, that what may apply to some students does not apply to all. Nonetheless, the crisis state of the education system and its effect upon students is well known.

    The article told me nothing I have not heard many times already.

    It is my daily experience.
  14. E-Male's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by DrBeat
    Self motivation. Some people lack it. I see it every day (I'm an expert, I attend public high school).

    If someone wants to be skilled and become learned, then they will.
    Exceptionally true, Dr. Beat.

    In a culture where many young people are told they are great, have everything handed to them, and are seldom taken to task, self-motivation suffers.

    Does not matter how great the teacher may be -- you can't teach a kid that is unwilling to learn.
  15. E-Male's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by SharinganTH1422
    Who is this "writer" and why do I care what he thinks?
    Well, if you were aware of the dominant conversation about education you would already know the answer to that question. Or you might Google the phrase.

    Obviously, the phrase is meant to incite -- it is a book title meant to sell a book.

    Whether or not he is correct, of course, another matter.

    No need to get your knickers in a twist -- it is broad claim meant to characterize a widespread social phenomenon -- it is not necessarily about you.
  16. E-Male's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by SharinganTH1422
    E-male, I can't be bothered to tell you the reasons behind why this blog post - and your responses to the comments - are BS.
    I'd have to give that response a flat F.
  17. Skud's Avatar
    You are aware your generation is teaching this generation, right?

    You're leading by example.
  18. MacLeod's Avatar
    This is all only a guess as to what could be causing this so called issue, but there is also the fact that our generation most likely has the highest college attendance rate of any of the previous generations. When you look at a typical high school you see the obvious separations between, like what Beat mentioned, the motivated and the unmotivated students. Previously the motivated ones were the only people choosing to pursue a higher education. However, now with easier access to community colleges and other smaller institutions, students who lacked to motivation to work on their scores in high school can still continue with their education and, inadvertently, skew the results. These "effortless" students are simply attending college due to the lower standards set in place. Then again, part of your post claims this is due to the quality of the education and the lack of rigorous coursework, in which case the blame could be partly offloaded upon the professors themselves.
  19. Ferris Bueller's Avatar
    There are several other points to consider in this matter. The blog post you made indicated that no substantive gains were made in writing or reasoning. Are we to be expected to make significant gains in only these two measurements as a testament to our educational successes? The article stems from a flawed premise.

    Point 1: Yes, I will concede that many 18-22 year olds are exceptionally lazy and concerned with things other than scholastic aptitude. There is a prime reason for this: adolescence. Raging hormones, the first breath of freedom from parental overwatch, induction into personal freedom and being an adult, and an overwhelming abundance of distractions (all of which are far more entertaining to a young mind than sitting in a classroom listening to someone twice or three-times your age ramble on about subjects they probably only have a modest interest in, at best).

    Point 2: There are myriad occupations and aptitudes which the study neglects to even approach. Take my own profession, nursing, as an example. My coursework for the first two years of my undergraduate program was "general education" courses: history, mathematics, english, sciences. Very few of those were actually helpful to me in my chosen path (psychology, physiology, anatomy, chemistry, and biology were the only pertinent courses of the first two years, and of those, only the first three imparted knowledge which I actually still use, the latter two simply fed into the rest as a base level, much the way you must understand algebra to cope with calculus).

    As a causal effect of knowing exactly what courses were going to be of substance and which weren't prior to taking them, I simply didnt put any effort into the others. Through natural talents in memorization and test taking, I earned high grades, but absorbed almost none of the material.

    The second half of my undergraduate coursework was entirely nursing oriented from start to finish. No outside influence, no electives. The grading was cutthroat and there were strict minimums which were required to continue, much less pass. At this point, I kicked into gear because I knew what was on the line and knew the standards to which I had to adhere.

    However, in deviating from my original point, I have also demonstrated a part of the problem. Many of my professors in my electives and general education courses KNEW that their coursework, although required, would have no real effect on the chosen paths of the majority of their students, and thus approached teaching with a very laid back attitude. The blind leading the blind, if you will.

    To the point: my reasoning skills certainly didnt improve in areas that would have been measured by these studies, as the focus of my reasoning is linear problem solving on a case by case basis, often guided by teams of colleagues. That reasoning would be very hard to test in anything other than a simulated environment, and even then I seriously doubt that the authors of the article would be willing to go to such journalistic depths when they can simply make broad generalizations. The same can be said of hundreds of other career educational paths.

    My writing skills certainly didnt improve either. My skills in verbiage, syntax, grammar and spelling were learned far before college became an issue. In my profession, writing full reports is seldom done and even then uses vast amounts of shorthand that, to laymen, would be equitable to a deaf person attempting to decipher audible morse code. So again, by the standards which the article judges, I, as someone who has earned one bachelors degree, one masters degree and one doctorate, am an educational failure.

    As any reasoned thinker will tell you, a flawed premise leads to a flawed conclusion. GIGO law. Thats all this article is. Backing it with anything less than concrete proof (that being through years of testing in thousands of classrooms, environments, and simulations, all ranged across thousands of possible course possibilities and paired with the data that corresponds to the chosen path on which the individual students would eventually follow) is nothing short of hot air.

    It is a journalist's cry against a generation younger than his own, imbued with all the prejudices of age, and eaten up by those of similar longevity. An impartial and objective viewer of the subject can readily see that there are much larger issues to be dealt with than what can be brought together by a very basic statistical analysis.

    TL;DR:
    The study is crap. There are a thousand variables required to judge this situation and the article takes only two or three before condemning an entire generation. That being said, its not entirely our fault. As Skud pointed out, if we are failures in education, so are they who attempt to educate us and fail in doing so.

    EDIT: One last thing, in the statement that the New York Times might be a better resource than Fox, I'd have to disagree. They're both abysmal. Both are prime examples of editorialized, overly sensationalist, politically slanted ENTERTAINMENT press. In this day and age, it is nearly impossible to find a source of news that doesnt do so without bias and simply reports fact. The reason for that, as I'm sure you well understand E-Male, is that facts dont sell. Spin, slant and entertainment do. Sex, drugs, war, politics, yelling and screaming, pointing fingers and laying blame. Those things sell, not fact.

    So no, neither is a good source for ACTUAL news. They are both equally good sources for providing the sort of news media entertainment to those who have particular politicosocial inclinations to the left or right. It simply depends on which lean you have to determine in which you will find more journalistic "good".
  20. Berlancic's Avatar
    Upon discussing my motivation in school, my father put it to me, similar to this:

    "You choose your actions based on what will give you benefit in the next second, not what will give you benefit in the long term future"
    It's rather interesting, considering that, I think, I have a lot more things I could do than put an effort into school work, than I may have been able to in past generations. Take for example Facebooking or a game on an Iphone. Now I'm a naive critical thinker and novel arguer, but perhaps that this increased variety in activities I can do being part of this generation (for the sake of rebutting flames, this does not generalize to mean every member of the generation exhibits this characteristic) increases this aspect of laziness compared to older generations?
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