Paula Jean Schlax
pschlax at abacus.bates.edu
Mon Jul 10 12:28:33 EST 2000
I wholeheartedly agree that students (of all ages) need breadth as well as depth in
their training. (Part of the reason I wanted to teach at a liberal arts college) At
the graduate level, the move seems to be to require fewer classes in the hopes that
people will graduate earlier and then the faster graduation rate will attract more
students- I think that this is the wrong approach......
I need to speak out in favor of the University of Wisconsin here(at least while I
was there)- for a PhD, students are required to have a minor- although some students
minor in a subject very close to their major (Thermodynamics or Material Science as
a Quantum Chemistry specialist) many advisors and many of the NIH training grant
programs encourage or require that students obtain more breadth- I was a Physical
chemistry major and I minored in essentially Bacteriology- taking virology,
prokaryotic molecular biology, gene regulation in prokaryotes etc.... In addition to
my required courses, I took a course in inorganic chemistry and some biochem classes
as well- all with the support of my advisor- It seems as if many graduate programs
and advisors discourage students from taking more than the required courses for a
field that it doesn't surprise me that the students have a bad attitude about
obtaining some breadth.....They want to get out in four or five years....
> There is a huge problem in our current "teach to the test" mentality. Add to
> it the attitude that students are consumers, rather than students, and you find
> they don't have an interest in intellectual accomplishment or learning, just
> in grades. I hve PhD students come by asking me to regrade problem sets
> just on the chance they might get a better grade. That they haven't earned it,
> or haven't mastered the material, they don't view as an impediment.
> What's scary is the number of students who have the attitude
> that learning something not directly relevant to their benchwork is
> irrelevant. i fear that in many cases we are turning out highly skilled
> hands but limited minds, who lack the creative breadth to be real scientists.
> perhaps this is the sorry triumph of the careerist over the intellectual.
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