spelling....knowledge

Julia Frugoli JFRUGOLI at BIO.TAMU.EDU
Mon Nov 17 10:40:03 EST 1997


(SNIP)
>
>And so we have students who are only interested in material they are 
>going
>to be graded on.  And students who can't spell or put a sentence 
>together
>because they don't read on their own anymore.  They don't read and
>therfore can't write.  And most infuriating of all, they are not 
>students
>at college, feeling priviledged for being there---they are consumers
>shelling out big bucks for an education; their professors are education
>providers in the way doctors and nurses are health-care providers.  As
>such they feel completely free to demand maximum quality for their 
>buck. 
>And to their way of thinking, this means being able to call a professor
>and leave the message that they would like him to return their call!  
>They
>feel completely at ease holding a TA responsible for their own bad 
>grades
>on an exam or a lab report.  They feel that if they failed to perform
>well, then it is the problem of the provider, that the provider did not 
>do
>his or her job, and that they, as consumers, have every right to demand
>better performance.  
>
>I am not sure what the answer is.  How do you instill a love of 
>learning? 
>I don't know but I think that even in the last 10 years, we've gone a 
>long
>way towards losing whatever instilled it in the first place. I'd love 
>to
>hear from people as to how they think it might be possible to make it 
>cool
>to be an intellectual again.  How do you make it cool to be well-read, 
>to
>have a great vocabulary?  When did being well-eduacted and literate 
>become
>intellectual snobbery?  And how do we turn that around?
>
>                     
                                          Alice
>
IMHO-

The problem comes from the way colleges today attract students.  We tell 
students that a college education gets them a good job.  Few come to 
learn; they come so they can earn more money.  Pre-meds used to be the 
worst because they came to college only to get to medical school; now 
they are joined by pre-law,business  and engineering majors who only 
want to get that job... Colleges send out brochures telling how 
successful their alumni are, and so the process of higher education is 
seen not as a priviledge one earns and  can lose, but as a service one 
pays  for.  I certainly support the ideal of higher education being 
accessible to all, but when I look at some of my husbands' students at a 
public institution, who 35 years ago couldn't even have gotten into 
college because their ability to read is questionable, I wonder if we're 
doing them any favors.  They don't care-it's just a stop along the way 
to the job that will buy them the car and the stereo 2 levels  above the 
one they  own now.  And they certainly don't improve much over the 
course of 4 years in reading/writing ability (one can get into some 
Texas colleges without even passing the TAAS test-a basic test for high  
school graduation that it suppossed to measure the ability to read and 
write at the 12th grade level.  Interestingly, one can  also teach high 
school in  Texas without being able to pass  this test, but that's 
another thread....) It makes  the degree more and  more meaningless.

This is not  to disparage the  gems of students both my husband and I 
have seen over the  years.  There will always be people who love to 
learn.  As long as they get the same "reward" (grade, diploma) as those 
who couldn't care less, I  think we all feel "something's rotten in 
Denmark."

We turn out "college  graduates" who  can't  read, write, do math, or 
seperate psuedoscience from fact because of the pressure to produce a 
product-a graduate.  As long as academia at the administrative level 
consciously or unconsciously sells education this way, things won't 
change.

Way too cynical  for a Monday morning,
*****************************************************
Julia Frugoli
Dartmouth College

visiting grad student at
Texas A&M University
Department of Biological Sciences
College Station, TX 77843
409-845-0663
FAX 409-847-8805

"Evil is best defined as militant ignorance."        
																										Dr. M. Scott Peck*****************************************************



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