College Education

A Community College Dean has an interesting post on college education. It has some excellent points. And some horrible ones.

Let’s get the horrible out of the way, since that’s what you all want to know about, right?

Those who attack us for having Democrats on the faculty are invited to bite my ass.

Is he kinky, or what?

No one is having fits because there are Democrats on the faculty. They’re having fits because a group which touts “diversity” as one of the highest ideals has 85% Democrats on the faculty. I don’t want affirmative action for Republicans, so it’s not that big a deal to me. Except that it does influence my life.

Every day when I go to class there’s an eight by eight wall covered with anti-military slogans.

It’s one of the faculty member’s office. No one else has an office that is visible to the hall. But she does and she covers her wall with things, which are always anti-military and sometimes untrue, like “100,000 civilians killed in Iraq.” (There haven’t been. And the implication is that all civilians are killed by the US military when, in fact, most of them are killed by Iraqis who are trying to blow people up. In fact, some of the civilians are the ones who blow people up.)

There’s no wall of pro-military support.

And I have five veterans in my classes. So what do they think when the teacher they’re required to take (only course offered) belittles their service and condemns them without a trial? I don’t know what they think. I know I don’t like it.

I’m just an adjunct, so in office discussions I now try to keep my head down. (I didn’t once and I was reminded of the fact by my chair.)

But I know that politics effects tenure. At one school I went to a professor was denied tenure for sending editorials to the city paper. The president of the college told him to stop or he would not get tenure. He didn’t stop. He didn’t get tenure.

That’s the kind of thing FIRE deals with, but I don’t want to ever need FIRE’s help.

What is he right about?

He’s right about the difference between learning and credentials.

Many students want the credential, but prefer not to be bothered with actual learning. They’re busy, and it’s hard, and there are just so many other things they’d rather be doing. If there’s a relatively education-free way to get the credential, some students will be more than happy to take it.

A small but non-zero number of faculty have decided to exploit this quirk of our industry, and establish a sort of arms-control agreement with students. I won’t ask much of you, and you won’t bad-mouth me. In certain programs, people can make careers doing this.

Some teachers, for whatever reason, decide to be very easy on the students in order for the students to be easy on them.

That’s not the way I go, but I’m not full-time faculty. (When I was, it didn’t effect me that way either.)

But he does a good job of explaining why students, who I thought were in school to learn, take “easy” classes. It’s because they aren’t in school to learn. They’re in school to get a degree.

When will they learn? I don’t know.

But he’s also right that most employers don’t care about your GPA, just your degree. And that might be a thing that will change down the road. I don’t know. But it seems to me that if I were an employer, I’d want to know that my new hire was going to work for me. And GPA, and course titles, might help me see if they’ve worked for anyone else.

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