Monday, February 7, 2011

Even Harvard Now Agrees We Send Too Many to College

Finally, even Harvard's School of Education is recognizing that we send too many students to college. It also has awakened to the truism that for students who attend college, there must be more focus on essentials than on esoterica.

It seems so obvious that it's more important that students graduate college with better communication skills than deconstruction skills, stronger probabilistic thinking than hermeneutic thinking, better Google-searching ability than journal-article-searching ability.

Yet academics continue to insist--without reprisal--on teaching more of what they care about than of what students need. How hypocritical that most professors decry elitism yet teach topics that most college graduates will never need to nor even care to know.

HERE is the link to the press release that contains a link to the Harvard report.

I am ever more convinced, as I've written for years, that higher education is America's most overrated product, and HERE is a video-recorded interview I recently did on the subject.


Justin Wehr said...

Scott Adams wrote a lovely piece today on "Educating B students" and his experience with an entrepreneurial college program. Thought you'd appreciate it:

(P.S. - looks like the last link to the video interview is incorrect.)

Marty Nemko said...

Thanks Justin, both for your link and noting the broken link. It's now fixed.

Anonymous said...

Marty, I know you're a fan of Google-based learning but I really think that for some topics it's important to teach in a linear progression and show how one thought was built from another. This, I believe, is especially true for sciences such as physics and chemistry. The Web doesn't easily offer that linear format.

For example, let's say you're trying to learn electronics. You might start out reading a Web page about resistors and Ohm's law. The page might make a casual reference to transistors with a link you can click on to learn more about them. Of course out of curiosity, you click that link. But you're not ready to learn about transistors! By clicking that link you just catapulted yourself into a more advanced area of electronics when you don't have the basics down. You derailed your focus.

I'm only mentioning this because I've had several frustrations with trying to teach myself using the Web alone.

I'm just afraid that Web-based learning alone will make students learn a little about a lot. They'll get "sound-bites" of knowledge.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Anna said...

That was a great article, Justin. I agree that we should be pushing more people into entrepreneurship and small-business ownership. One huge problem tho is that people want to be taken care of, either by the government or by whatever corporation they work for. They want the security of the 9-5 job "plus bennies".

Aside from small-business ownership, I think society would benefit from a return to vocations and trades such as mechanics, sustainable farming, jewelry making, weaving, brewing, woodworking, etc. Working with one's hands to create something useful and/or beautiful.

Jeffrie said...

Another person jumps on the "too many go to college" bandwagon.

Here's a video. And here's the blogpost referred to on that page (which followed this blogpost and links to this blogpost).

I know that sometimes you feel you're the only one saying this, but clearly you're not.

Robert said...

I generally agree with what Dr. Nemko says on education, but I'm not sure what the problem is with "hermeneutic thinking." In fact I don't know what "hermeneutic" means, period. It's one of those words which I look up in a dictionary and am left more confused after I look it up than I was beforehand!

So could someone explain what hermeneutic thinking is, and why it is best avoided?

Marty Nemko said...

There is nothing WRONG with hermeneutics, it's just that, when students are allowed to graduate without basic writing, reading, critical thinking, mathematical reasoning, and information literacy skills, the teaching of hermeneutics is testimony to the selfishness of professors, who care to teach what they're fascinated with rather than what students need. Hermeneutics is--to make it simple, indeed not quite accurate--the viewing of literature, perhaps especially the Bible from a wide range of perspectives, heavily dictated by the linguistics and culture of the reader. It is most associated with Heidegger and especially Gadamer, but it was important to Nietzche, and also was an important underpinning of postmodernism/deconstruction. Aren't you glad you asked?

Anonymous said...

Way too many people are going to college. President Obama wants to have the highest college graduation rate in the world. This will mean that more people will take out loans and get in debt for degrees that aren't marketable. People will feel obligated to attend college. Not everyone is interested in math and science, so they will major in things like art history and gender studies. Plus, the quality of education will go down, and degrees will be even more worthless than they are today.

Since 1980, college tuition has increased by 600% because the government subsidized loans. The higher education bubble will burst within the next 5 years and it will be worse than the housing crisis. That's because you can't sell back your degree.


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