Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Decline of American Higher Ed

A recent Nicholas Kristof NY Times column comments on the decline of American higher education. His thesis is summarized in this paragraph:
  • A third reason is that Chinese believe that those who get the best grades are the hardest workers. In contrast, Americans say in polls that the best students are the ones who are innately the smartest. The upshot is that Chinese kids never have an excuse for mediocrity.
From what I've been able to observe this is true. It's ironic that America the most democratic country with the Protestant "pull yourself by your own bootstraps" work ethic believe that smarts is inherited and cannot be developed. The Chinese attitude can be traced back to Mencius. The American attitude may have been derived from recent genetic sciences, or from our very heterogeneous society as opposed the homogeneous one in China. The problem as I see it now it is that American students don't doubt they haven't the smarts, they're all little Einsteins.

Phi Beta Cons has more on the decline of American higher ed. A professor writes:

I have been a professor in the U.S. and Canada, and I have worked in the Computer Science industry for 35 years. I was appalled by my last teaching job where:

1. Tenured professors had degrees from a different field, did not keep up with advances in the field over the last thirty years and did no research.

2. They gave students assignments which were mostly done and where some of the blanks had to be filled.

3. Students who obtained 6% or 16% on the final could pass because they did (?) their assignments.

4. Students had been pushed through primary and secondary school and did not know the bases of Mathematics or English required to succeed in college.

5. They continued to be pushed through to a college degree to face a very competitive job market with no preparation. Many end up in jobs unrelated to their degree, which is a sham.

6. The administration goes along with it as long as no union rule was violated and they continue to get funding from the state.

The next generation is being trained to get everything handed to them with no effort, no motivation, no expectation and no initiative. If we continue to make a joke out of education, permit anything as long as people are willing to pay for a degree with no content, we are doomed to lose our standing as a world power within one generation.

No comments: