Tuesday, January 18, 2011

College: High school, part II?

Posted By on Tue, Jan 18, 2011 at 11:55 AM

Did you see the McClatchy article that describes a study indicating college students aren't learning how to think critically (one of the main reasons to go to college in the first place)?

You don't need to tell me that today's college kids are more interested in partying than they are in studying. Though that may not be a new phenomenon, the lack of interest in actually learning anything in class does seem to be more pronounced than ever. And it's not just me.

Allow me to explain. I took the scenic route to graduation: three colleges, in as many states with at least that many majors. It took me 14 years to graduate, in part because I had to work my way through and, let's be real, I required an occasional extended break. When I first took college courses, in 1995, my peers studied and played hard. But, by the time I graduated in 2009, many of my fellow students not only seemed disinterested in academics, they snickered behind the backs of anyone who did. Now, my mother, who is retired, is in her junior year and is reporting the same sort of behavior.

In response, unfortunately, the curriculum appears to be getting less difficult and the professors more understanding, which means the graduates are leaving campus ill prepared and dim.

This is not cool. We are not doing ourselves, our society or our country's future any favors when we don't push students to excel. Already, American students are lagging way, way behind students in other countries.

Now, I should stop here and recognize that there are plenty of students who do work hard. We need more of those and fewer of the slackers.

But, what's leading to the slackness? Good question. I think we need to take a hard look at parents and the severe lack of funding for our schools. We do not have a world-class educational system anymore, and until we get over our egos and embrace that reality, our students are going to continue to graduate without the smarts to run our powerful nation. And, you know what that means: Our power and prestige will slip, too.

From GOOD Magazine:

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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