Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What University Presidents Know But Don't Say: We've Screwed Up Higher Ed

This is pretty much right.

Some important bits:

1. 'A's no longer indicate genuine excellence:
...if you do possess burning intellectual curiosity, we'll let you read all the books we assign and do all the research you want to write profound and insightful papers; it's just that those that don't do all that reading and write b.s. in their papers might get an A, too.
2. Causes:
1. Faculty cowardice - (among some) Many faculty just do not want to argue with students about grades.

2. The quest for good teaching evaluations. I would guess that the correlation between high grades awarded and enthusiastic teacher evaluations is quite high almost everywhere.

3. Political correctness and the mania to support "self-esteem" of students.

4. Precipitous decline of honor codes almost everywhere, so that cheating is rampant.

5. The spread of "spinus dissaperanus," a viral disease that robs university leaders of whatever spine they had before becoming leaders.

6. Governing board failures, due partly to the fact that prospective board members eagerly seek the social status that comes with university board membership.

7. Growing lack of diversity in faculty philosophical views.

Though I don't see how 7 matters at all (it's true: but it's not relevant here). We should add:

8. Valuing publication over teaching

You get nothing--nothing--for being a good teacher. Publications are everything. And if you waste time on teaching, you will lose out to those who are prudent enough to put all their energies into research. (JQ tells of TAing for a prof would would have to ask the TAs on the way to class what he was supposed to lecture on that day...and then he'd proceed, unsurprisingly, to make a hash of it.)

University professors are destroying the future of the nation by refusing to hold students to reasonable standards.


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