Are our students the customers, the product, or something else?
by Leonard Schlesinger (Babson)
Schools that identify students as customers are missing the essential reciprocal nature of the educational relationship. As someone who has spent most of his adult life running service enterprises that were truly taking care of customers, the use of that word for what is essentially a partnership relationship demeans the work that faculty do. You would not “flunk” your customer because you don’t want to make him or her unhappy.
The customer mode generally implies a transactional encounter. So, when they’re in line at the dining hall or bookstore or engaging in the administrative functions on campus, then, absolutely, students are customers.
However, what goes on in the classroom is not transactional. When they’re in the classroom, each student is a PILE—a Partner in the Learning Enterprise. A Partner in the Learning Enterprise recognizes that each of us has a set of Continue reading “Students are Not the Customers – Or the Product – But Our Partners”
What is your passion?
by Pamela Haag
It’s true that “passion” and “mission” get tossed around a lot these days. They sound like things that any college freshman can pick up at the salad bar.
How will you even recognize your passion when you encounter it? Perhaps unwisely, I’m going to propose a practical rather than a gauzy, ponderous answer to that question: A passion is something that you love so much that you want to keep doing it even when you’re failing at it, you need to work hard to do it, and the doing of it occasionally is no fun at all.
That comes as close to a mission in life as I can imagine. I love writing in almost any genre or permutation, even when it’s a nightmare.
Too often, what we’re good at gets Continue reading “Passion – You Can’t Know You’ve Found it Until You Fail”
Are too many students going to college?
by Walter E. Williams
Too much of anything is just as much a misallocation of resources as it is too little, and that applies to higher education just as it applies to everything else. A recent study from The Center for College Affordability and Productivity titled “From Wall Street to Wal-Mart,” by Richard Vedder, Christopher Denhart, Matthew Denhart, Christopher Matgouranis and Jonathan Robe, explains that college education for many is a waste of time and money. More than one-third of currently working college graduates are in jobs that do not require a degree. An essay by Vedder that complements the CCAP study reports that there are “one-third of a million waiters and waitresses with college degrees.” The study says Vedder — distinguished professor of economics at Ohio University, an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and director of CCAP — “was startled a year ago when the person he hired to cut down a tree had a master’s degree in history, the fellow who fixed his furnace was a mathematics graduate, and, more recently, a TSA airport inspector (whose job it was to ensure that we took our shoes off while going through security) was a recent college graduate.”
The nation’s college problem is far deeper than Continue reading “Too Much Higher Education”
Are we preparing students for the professional world?
By Carol Geary Schneider (AAC&U)
Envision this: You’re an employer, interviewing a candidate for an entry-level position in your unit. The applicant is very direct.
“I’m in it for the money,” she explains. “I make all my choices on the basis of how much I can expect to earn. I chose my major based on earnings reports. I applied for this particular position because you pay more than any other company in the region. Actually, I’m a bit sorry that I didn’t stop with a two-year degree, since I read in the newspaper last week that I could have made almost as much in my first job with half the time spent on college. I hate thinking about all the time I wasted.”
You have no difficulty deciding not to hire this new graduate. The job applicant who arrives talking money first, money only, lacks common sense, and career sense, too.
And yet our candid candidate did Continue reading “The Narrowing of the American Mind”
How do you teach people to do the right thing?
by Warren Goldstein
Like many people in the academy, I have found myself uneasily stewing over the murders at Virginia Tech. My students and I have spent far too much time glancing over at our classroom door, wondering whether we would have been able to hold it shut if a gunman had wanted in; would I have had the courage of Liviu Librescu, who students said died protecting them?
I was lucky; I didn’t have to deal with Seung-Hui Cho, unlike my poor colleagues in the Virginia Tech English department, who had formed a departmental task force to discuss him. At least they tried. They resisted the Continue reading “Why It’s OK to Rat On Other Students”
by Judith Pace (U of San Francisco)
The Educational Testing Service report on the correlation between income and education and levels of political and civic engagement (“Education and Income Levels Are Key Predictors of Civic Involvement, Report Says,” The Chronicle, May 23) is not news. Educational researchers call this the civic empowerment gap, or democracy divide, and trace it not only to sociological factors but also to unequal democratic learning opportunities in secondary schools. Students in higher-track classes, who are disproportionately European- or Asian-American from middle-class or affluent families, enjoy more discussions of important public issues and experiential curricular activities than do students in lower-track classes, who are disproportionately Continue reading “To Encourage Civic Engagement, Start in Elementary School”
What do academics do wrong?
By James M. Lang (Assumption)
Over winter break, I made the decision to experiment with my survey course, which covers British and Irish literature from the end of the 18th century to the present. I wanted to see if I could inject new life into a course structure that has seemed, to me at least, increasingly tired and outdated.
I had really begun to wonder why we—by which I mean both my department and the discipline as a whole—felt it necessary to push our students through these hit-and-run overviews of the history of literature. When we’re covering James Joyce in 50 minutes on Monday, Virginia Woolf on Wednesday, and T.S. Eliot on Friday, are we really helping them learn content that they understand, that matters to them, and that will remain in their brains beyond the span of the course?
Last spring, on my most recent run through the survey, I experimented with Continue reading “The Best-Laid Teaching Schemes”
How should higher education be funded?
by Christopher Loss (Vanderbilt)
July 2, 1862, was a busy day for President Abraham Lincoln. He dispatched several letters to far-flung military commanders. He held meetings on the war and on the status of fugitive slaves. He also signed three laws, including one banning polygamy in the territories and another creating a loyalty oath for all government officials. The final law Lincoln signed, the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act, putting the federal government in charge of the development of public colleges and universities, not only turned out to be the most important of the three bills he signed but stands as an enduring legacy of his presidency.
The long-germinating land-for-education bill was the brainchild of a self-taught son of a blacksmith, Representative—and later Senator— Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont, a Republican. He believed that the Continue reading “Why the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act Still Matters”
Are we preparing students for the professional world?
by Dan Shapiro (Penn State)
You were one of only a handful of candidates we invited to campus. We wanted to like you.
Hell, I wanted to love you. I am your potential future chair. When I became chair, I knew that bringing in strong faculty members was my best chance to leave a mark on the department and the college. I also knew that job searches were a drag on the little boat I would be trying to navigate through waters strewn with budget cuts, increased teaching loads, and fussy-somewhat-overworked faculty members. So I wanted the search to be over and for you to be here already.
But then your job talk started and my throat went dry and I felt that thumping in my temples.
Grim job talks are a buzz kill. And let’s be clear, your problem was not Continue reading “Grim Job Talks Are a Buzz Kill”