Fall semester is drawing to a close, for which I am very very grateful. I have graded a LOT of really horrendous discussion posts this semester. More and more mid to upperclassmen get to me with no knowledge of correct English, how to properly cite anything, and (in many cases) a shocking lack of caring that such issues are tanking their grade. Most of them are just angry that I don’t spoonfeed them, give them endless extensions, or provide study guides.
I’m sorry. You’re in COLLEGE NOW.
This is another one of those things that truly terrifies me for the fate of our country. No Child Left Behind is sending education to hell in a handbasket, graduating students who don’t know squat, which is ultimately going to leave everyone behind.
I just finished calculating exemptions in my classes. I’m one of the cool profs. If they have an A in the class prior to the final, to my mind that indicates mastery of the material, so I give them an A and let them skip the final. It’s a practice I’ve had since I started teaching five years ago. Over time, the number of students who are exempt gets smaller and smaller. Twenty percent of one of my classes is failing going into the final because they just didn’t bother to ever turn in a discussion question all semester (20% of their grade). One student emailed me wanting to know her grade going into the final so she’d know what she had to make to pass. I got to email her back to explain that even a 100 on the final wasn’t going to get her to pass my class. Cue freak out and “But but but! I deserve an extension/do over/to be passed even though I didn’t earn it!”
I repeat YOU ARE IN COLLEGE NOW (even though many of you have no business being here). Education is doomed so long as the popular thing is to maintain that everyone has equal ability. It’s moronic. That’s like saying everybody is capable of playing pro football or being an astronaut. College is not for everyone. And that’s totally okay. What sense does it make for somebody to have a 4 year degree in some random thing if their passion is, say, working on diesel engines or something? I’ve got degrees out the wazoo and I sure as hell couldn’t do that. It still takes serious brains, just a different type of education.
It drives me insane that a college degree has become the new high school diploma, which is now graduating hordes of students who really don’t know anything more than they did in high school, but damn it they have that piece of paper–and tens of thousands in debt to show for it. How is this a good thing? It devalues all education across the board, puts people in school for longer, getting higher and higher degrees, higher and higher debt, all to acquire jobs that aren’t going to pay enough to justify the debt burden. But hey, debt is a popular thing in our country. And our Congressmen keep giving themselves raises…
Okay this is so not the place for a political rant, so stopping myself now and just gonna say I’m grateful for the fact that finals are next week and I get a few weeks off from evil day job number 2.