December 26, 2011

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: A Perfect Storm in Undergraduate Education. This piece is from a few months back. but the Chronicle of Higher Education is re-running it and given that the issue has gotten more attention lately it’s worth looking at. Key bit: “What good does it do to increase the number of students in college if the ones who are already there are not learning much? Would it not make more sense to improve the quality of education before we increase the quantity of students?”

Plus: “Increasingly, undergraduates are not prepared adequately in any academic area but often arrive with strong convictions about their abilities. So college professors routinely encounter students who have never written anything more than short answers on exams, who do not read much at all, who lack foundational skills in math and science, yet are completely convinced of their abilities and resist any criticism of their work, to the point of tears and tantrums: ‘But I earned nothing but A’s in high school,’ and ‘Your demands are unreasonable.’ Such a combination makes some students nearly unteachable.”

To some degree, the higher education bubble is a creature of the lower education bubble.

UPDATE: Reader Don Bagwell writes:

Everything has a sports analogy parallel. The University of Michigan football squad’s defense last year was near the very bottom of the rankings. This year it made dramatic improvements under new coaching. Greg Mattison, the new defensive coordinator, is quoted as saying he was astonished at how confident the defensive players were when he first met with them after assuming the job, despite their poor showing last year. Mattison credits this year’s success to a return to remedial coaching — basic fundamentals — and very hard work to break the players of their unwarranted confidence

I maintain young people of today actually yearn to be taught life’s hard lessons, but can’t find teachers to teach them. When one is found (Mattison at Michigan, other “tough love” coaches in football, the U.S. Marine Corp and other branches of the military), those who yearn eagerly flock to the teaching. The extent of lower education’s failure — and liberals’ support of of lower education’s methods — is hard to overestimate.

I remember when Tennessee had a football team. . . .

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