GO NAVY BEAT ARMY

GO NAVY BEAT ARMY

'87 Sir

Thirty years of service ----USNA Class of 1987 '87 Sir

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Slate Magazine surprised me again.....

Just when I thought inane and pretentious lefty magazines couldn't lower their idiocy anymore, I discover this. 

The End of the College Essay 

Now, I'm not an "education columnist" or anything...whatever the hell that actually is...but I'm pretty sure MS. Schuman has never lived in the real business world where communications counts and writing is important. 

SO, to kick things off...and YES, I am fired up about this stupidity, let's have some awesome quotes:
Mom, friends, educators, students: We don’t have to assign papers, and we should stop. We need to admit that the required-course college essay is a failure. The baccalaureate is the new high-school diploma: abjectly necessary for any decent job in the cosmos. As such, students (and their parents) view college as professional training, an unpleasant necessity en route to that all-important “piece of paper.” Today’s vocationally minded students view World Lit 101 as forced labor, an utter waste of their time that deserves neither engagement nor effort. So you know what else is a waste of time? Grading these students’ effing papers. It’s time to declare unconditional defeat.
This, of course, would be an excellent summation of the state of modern American education...it's too hard, the kids hate it...so let's just drop it.  REALLY???

I assume this probably starts in high school where, maybe she is right (my particular highlights are in bold italic for this post) that we have wasted BILLIONS AND BILLIONS at the request of the teacher's unions for WHAT???.  Students that are too lazy and stupid to communicate more than 140 characters at a time?  IS that what the NEA and AFT want to stand up and tell parents...."Hey never mind our endless pontificating about more $$$ to educate little Johnny, we really didn't mean it...Whattsamatta U will fix everything"...only maybe they won't.

Let's move now to the second awesome observation here:
Most students enter college barely able to string three sentences together—and they leave it that way, too. With protracted effort and a rhapsodically engaged instructor, some may learn to craft a clunky but competent essay somewhere along the way. But who cares? My fellow humanists insist valiantly that (among other more elevated reasons) writing humanities papers leads to the crafting of sharp argumentative skills, and thus a lifetime of success in a number of fields in which we have no relevant experience. But my friends who actually work in such fields assure me that most of their colleagues are borderline-illiterate.
In many cases, I must agree with her argument, many college students can't even write a decent paragraph, which, of course, starts in high school.  A little anecdote...when I was working on my first Master's degree, in Technology Management, we wrote...a lot...in every class, and it was a huge pain in the butt.  Not so much for me, because as a history major, I was able to write and edit my own work.  BUT, for the techno-geeks...wowza, it was painful.  Which is why our Program Director, during our capstone class outbrief said the NUMBER ONE request from businesses where graduates worked was MORE COMMUNICATIONS TRAINING, both written and oral.  The basic problem was you had super-geniuses that had to explain complex technical subjects to a bunch of MBAs that had no idea what they were talking about, but had $$$$ in venture capital that the geeks wanted.

And, here is the final stupidity:
I’m not calling for the end of all papers—just the end of papers in required courses. Some students actually like writing, and let those blessed young souls be English majors, and expound on George Eliot and Virginia Woolf to their hearts’ content, and grow up to become writers, huzzah. But for the common good, leave everyone else out of it. Instead of essays, required humanities courses should return to old-school, hardcore exams, written and oral.
So, let's breakdown her logic (which is pretty broken down to begin with)...how exactly do you plan on doing these oral and written exams?  If students cannot ingest factoids, analyze and synthesize those facts into a logic and coherent argument and then express their conclusions IN GENERAL, how the hell will they pass these exams?  More likely they will be dumbed down to some sort of multiple choice nonsense to ensure the most students pass so Momma and Daddy can justify spending WAY too much money on that college diploma.

FINALLY, (and I was very happy to get to the end of this poltroon's essay) here is the usually touchy-feely crap from Slate that makes me very happy, happy, happy, I went to a real institute of higher learning.
Sure, this quashes the shallow pretense of expecting undergraduates to engage in thoughtful analysis, but they have already proven that they will go to any lengths to avoid doing this. Call me a defeatist, but honestly I’d be happy if a plurality of American college students could discern even the skeletal plot of anything they were assigned. With more exams and no papers, they’ll at least have a shot at retaining, just for a short while, the basic facts of some of the greatest stories ever recorded. In that short while, they may even develop the tiniest inkling of what Martha Nussbaum calls “sympathetic imagination”—the cultivation of our own humanity, and something that unfolds when we’re touched by stories of people who are very much unlike us. And that, frankly, is more than any essay will ever do for them.
 To be honest, I actually have no freakin' clue what that last sentence even means.  But that whopping introduction should frighten every single American...is this the state of modern American higher education?  Is this how they think?  Kinda makes me wonder if we shouldn't accelerate the end of the educational-industrial complex and let the era of individualized on-line education begin.  Of course, by keeping college kids uneducated and generally stupid, it does make it easier to get them to vote for Democrats with awesome political messages like "Hope and Change" and "Free birth control and legalized pot."  So maybe that is the long-term plan all along from the educational-industrial Democratic dominated teachers union and tenured college professors.

Hmmm, I don't feel better....maybe I will stick my Turabian under my pillow tonight to keep the bad, bad Slate lady away.

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