26.9.08

I'M NOT THE GRUMPIEST WEBLOGGER. The Pope Center's George Leef sees disinterest in academic "accountability" (the latest management fad).

Students who have been conditioned for twelve years to think that education is something where success comes automatically and without effort can’t be transformed into knowledge-thirsty scholars. Most of them go to college simply because they’ve heard that a degree is an occupational necessity. As they see things, they’re buying a product and expect to get it quickly and easily – just like buying a new cell phone or stylish shoes.

Faced with that mindset, colleges and universities pretend to educate students, offering an array of courses that students who don’t want to read and see no point in having an intellectual life can pass. Consequently, we have huge numbers of college grads who don’t read, write, or do math as well as high school grads did fifty years ago, as this National Association of Scholars study indicates.

That’s why I think that the talk about “accountability” is mostly hot air. The educational “customers” are getting the products they want. For some, that is a challenging and mind-expanding college experience and those who want that can still find it. For many others, however, a fluffy “education lite” is all they want and that’s what schools will keep giving them.

I don't agree with that conclusion. There is sufficient professorial discontent with the entitled attitude many weak students display that a little prodding of the admissions offices, and a little information about the resource sinks access-assessment-remediation-retention are, strategically provided to the right people, might go a long way toward improving faculty morale and higher education's public standing.

No comments: