Inhabitants of the Ivory Tower

A conversation about issues in higher education

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The only commodity people are willing to pay for and not get

The only commodity people are willing to pay for and not get is education. This is a favorite observation of a colleague and friend. He is referring to American university students. I think he is right.

That is not a generalization about all students. Most are very conscientious and concerned about performing up to their potential. But there is a growing number who expect us to hand them degrees with little or no effort on their part. And we, in the Ivory Tower, play right into it by dumbing down the curriculum, relaxing or eliminating standards, and acting like the truck farmers of higher education.

The problem has gotten worse with the advent of the internet, online learning, and the most insidious pedagogical abomination of all, compressed video. I teach a couple of online courses and I have pretty high standards, the most taxing on student commitment being participation in discussion boards where I and the students engage in structured processing of case studies. This activity accounts for 60 percent of their grades and is based on frequency and quality of contributions. In a semester course this means that students make an appearance several times a week -- each case study has a time limit of 3-4 days. Of course, one favorite complaint is, "I shouldn't have to show up more than once a week, just like in a regular on-campus face to face class" which is the schedule for graduate level classes.

Conducting an introductory on-campus orientation session for students is also a source of hostility. They resent the idea of having to get in the car and drive to campus; some refuse and then complain when I scold them for not following directions (and no, online orientation is not as effective).

Of course there are many other examples of "willing to pay and not get" behaviors. Professors everywhere probably have examples. But I don't know what to do with it other than tell students, "Hey, you don't want to do the work? Then pay the consequences."



At 10:43 AM, Blogger rami said...

This is exactly why students should not pay for education. Higher education shouldn't be commercialised, it should be state-sponsored, and enrollment shouldnt be based on the size of bank accounts.

At 5:17 PM, Blogger luckent47 said...

the students are customers and quality is defined by the end user, right?
oh my God, don't let me seem simple...
In a magnanimous display of intellectual diversity I would suggest you read the first chapter of "Rich Dad/ Poor Dad" and see for yourself just how discumbobulated the higher "education" system has become in the filthy rich west. The only thing these gold encrusted candy asses have to differentiate themselves is their decadence and their teachers are even worse.
the old system has been attacked by the new system and the result has been and newly screwed up system.
And to top it all off, no one knows exactly what they are fighting for or what they want.

do you send your kid to college to learn or to network with the other inbred sons and daughters of the wealthy? Can you walk out of a university and use yoru degree the next day or does it just get you a berth in the next step so you can be subjected to another hazing for an ever smaller pool of positions?

My personal opnion is that the modern university is dead and is only being kept alive by leftist scholars that want a place to indoctrinate another group of slumming rich kids that couldnt handle the real world anyway.

in the Animal Farm the pigs began to walk. the same people that once opposed the farmer became the farmer. Now we have the same thing on campus. I live near Ann Arbor and see the billion dollar prostitution of the institutions integrity that is called NCAA football. From the highest levels to the lowest this 800 lb gorilla permeates the psyche of the institution, and the saddest thing is that the game is actually beautiful.

What will happen is a revolution that will eventually blow apart the golden vision of frats enabling red capitalist prof unions and its pathetic and cynical uroborus. The university is a christian contruct in its American form and was originally about serving society, not the self and that is where it will reset to once the babyboomer generation and its greed are removed.
Otherwise, who gives a crap about all those worthless scions and their stupid shit?

what do you really care about? your job? rebuilding an obsolete paradigm? creating and spreading wealth in its different forms?

The arrogance and vanity on display at most universities these days kinda makes me think its really not that horrible a prospect that they should be reduced to ashes. and giving away tuition and grades will only hasten that outcome as more and more of us that seek to possess our own means to production will find that the products eminating from these gloried halls arent worth the hype or bother.


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