Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Quick and the Ed: Cruel, But Not a Hoax:


There's a good higher education article in the The Atlantic this month, not on-line yet, titled 'In The Basement of the Ivory Tower.' It's written by an anonymous 'Professor X,' an adjunct English instructor at both a small private college and a community college in the northeast. The gist is that many of his students are woefully unprepared for even the introductory courses he teaches. So he must fail them, exposing, in the words splashed across The Atlantic's cover, 'Higher Education's Cruelest Hoax.' Either that or, as the article's blurb puts it, the 'destructive myth' that 'a university education is for everyone.'

One thing's for certain: this piece will be catnip for those who like to adopt the contrarian too-many-people-are-going-to-college-these-days position. This is an especially attractive stance for elitists and/or people who spend a lot of time searching for opportunities to loudly begin sentences with some variation of the phrase 'I know it's not politically correct to say this, but...' as if this denotes intellectual bravery of some kind. The article's sad story of one Ms. L, who says she was 'so proud of myself for having written a college paper,' only to be crushed by a grade of 'F,' will be used as evidence that we are not doing people any favors by letting them into college. Charles Murray has apparently written a whole book about this--adorned with blurbs from Jonah Goldberg, Bill Bennett, P.J. O'Rourke, and Tom Wolfe no less--to be published later this year.
I love it when Kevin Carey gets pissed off.

There is a whole spiel about how adult non-traditional students are big dummies, the system failed us, we can't write sentences, colleges makes lots of money off of us, Charles Murray is evil, some students shouldn't go to college, that's B.S., poetry and Hamlet are a waste of time, adjunct professors are underpaid, etc, etc, etc, bla, bla, bla...

Writing as an adult non-traditional student, it's true. Many of us are big dummies. You should see some of the crap posted in my online and evening classes, especially when I was taking them at a community college in South Carolina. I finally transferred to an online four year college school/program that targets military students and the quality of my classmates has increased immensely.

Of course us online students have to be at least smart enough to navigate online classes. We also have to be fairly self-motivated to complete the classes, and the vast majority of us are holding down decent enough jobs to be able to afford the tuition.

Ironically, I want to get my bachelors degree in order to get a job earning less that I would if I stayed doing the same thing I am doing now.

Another one bites the dust...

Teaching in the 408: Meet Jake:

Jake's a graduating senior at Yale, with only a few days left, which means that as you read this, he is either hungover or drunk.
Jake's gonna report for duty at the TFA Los Angeles Training Institute sometime in the middle of June. He doesn't know how to diagnose, scaffold, or assess. He doesn't know what CELDT stands for and wouldn't know what to do with that information even if he did. Jake thinks objectives are something second-tier applicants put on the top of resumes and he's generally aware that standardized tests are badbadverybad, but couldn't really tell you why in any great detail.
Let's hope the smart-and-excited-trumps-experienced gamble pays off.

Let's hope like hell, cuz Jake or someone like him will be in room D2 next year, teaching my kids. I resign on Monday.
TMAO, a TFA alumni is resigning. I loved reading his blog, but it just won't be the same if he isn't teaching. Without his personal stories, he will be nothing but another highly educated, articulate, ex-teacher pontificating on the problems with education. Want to bet he ends up as a policy wonk at some education think thank? I will also give you 50/50 odds that he writes a heart wrenching book about how the young idealistic teacher ventured into the inner city to save the poor brown masses, but was stymied by the evil establishment.

Then again, maybe he will open up his own charter school, that's what all the cool TFA alumni do.

Note: Yes I am cynical today, but I spent all last week researching education programs for after I retire, and one of my favorite teacher blogger quits. Oh well, there is always dy/dan.

p.s. Just came across another TFA quitter.