From: PDX (and now) London, UK
The problem ( in terms of student quality in university) is that university has been made accessible to vast numbers of students who don't really require it to do the jobs they will obtain. In many cases vocational training would more than suffice but these kids are doing 3-4 year college degrees, getting life experience ( which is good ) but also being saddled with massive debts which outweigh the benefits which accrue to them from the life experiences and degree obtained.
People who have debt have to work. Get 'em in the red early and you have a contributing member of society.
Seriously though, even though the material may not stick, a college experience is a great time to understand who you are. Much preferable to getting out of HS, or dropping out, getting married at 19-20 and working the 9-5 to support the kids. What we don't see working in education is the effect down the road. Sure there are not top professional jobs for all of them, but the experience and knowing people who have achieved something also helps one dream bigger and maybe take things a bit more seriously in the mid-20s, finally getting on track and using some of the general thinking skills obtained on the way.
I taught college (US) for seven years (Math). It was really sad to see all the HS graduates fail their entrance exams and be require to take redemial Math and English before they could take an actual college course. So in the US, we are actually funding secondary education (9-12th grades) with tax dollars, AND then if these people want to go to college, pay tax dollars AGIAN to have them take the SAME exact material again in a college enviroment. Nice huh?
I taught an Algebra I class at the college (seriously) and it met at 8am for an hour every weekday. A really nasty schedule, both for me and the students . I had one student that attended every class, failed every test, and showed up for the final . He had done zero homework too. I said what the heck, if he got an A, I'd pass him. So i gave him the final. Of course he failed .
I asked him to wait after he turned the fianl in as I was very interested to see how he had done. So after I had graded it, I took him outside the class and asked him in a professional and polite way WTF? I will never forget his reply and this is word for word of what he told me. He said he thought my class would be like his high school. As long as he attended the classes and was quiet, he would pass. I sadly informed him that college was not like that and he would have to repeat the course. He looked very shocked that I was actually going to fail him. I have no idea if he continued or just gave up. But I have always wondered.
While his case was faily unique, there were plenty of others. I would start off a class like this with about 30-35 students at the beginning of the term. Once everyone knew that work was expected and tests/homework mattered, I would be down to 15 or so. Usually after the first test . The higher education process in action lol.
I taught in the university system for 6 years and I now teach in an international HS. I loved that about university classes. They don't do the work or show up; dropped. That's it. nothing like a bit of failure to separate the chafe from the wheat. Students do have to have the desire at that level, and if they don't they will be working in the service industry soon.
The most interesting thing about starting in this HS was that I couldn't let anyone fail. The support system is so well developed that if a student is not performing their life becomes much more difficult, regulated and painful so that they find it easier to just do the work and show some interest. Peer pressure is important too, and these kids want to succeed. There are some who get by with the minimum, but not many. This also means that it's a place where we can teach not only the subject but critical thinking and practical application. That is rare and it's why I love what I do. When I see those students 4-5 years on as well rounded young graduates with entrepreneurial goals and the drive to get there it makes me feel like there is some hope.
In the states the HS system needs a big shakeup. If you haven't seen it check out 'Waiting for Superman.'
The US spends more money on education than most countries and with much worse results. What is needed are better incentives for teachers and a reformation of the tenure system. Luckily I'm not teaching in that system.
< Message edited by obvert -- 6/10/2013 9:52:41 PM >
"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm." - Winston Churchill