lunadelcorvo: (Can it be A time now?)
[personal profile] lunadelcorvo
This is sort of out of nowhere, but it's actually a long comment I left in response to a poll by "templeghosts" over on LJ. I ended up spending a bit of time on it and thought I'd share. I'm also curious as to your thoughts on this generally.

- I think everyone should go to college, if for no other reason than (here in the US, at least) elementary education has become astonishingly dumbed down. My son has been lucky enough to get into some of the best schools in our area (largely because of where we live; he is still in the public system), but the education he has received throughout has been rudimentary and shallow. As a professor, I also see freshman every year, and their lack of basic reading, writing, and thinking skills together with their overall lack of cultural literacy is appalling. The "basic education" one used to get by the end of high school now requires college. Someone mentioned an MA now being considered the benchmark that a BA used to be? Given the dearth of actual education students receive by the end of high school, that makes perfect sense.

- I also think that there should be some kind of mandatory waiting period BEFORE going to college. Nobody knows themselves well enough at 18 to decide the course of their own lives, and they often don't have a clue about how the world works. Make them go live on their own for a while, travel, practice being a self-sufficient proto-adult, THEN college.

- I do think tuition should be if not free, then affordable. The ways in which universities bilk students for ever more money makes me see red, especially in light of the cash cow that is college sports. Too often, the "academic side" of a university never sees a penny of that sports cash.

- I also think that NO degree program should be without foundational humanities/gen ed content. Yes, pre-med students DO need philosophy, pre-laws do need art, business majors (maybe more than anyone) need history. Maybe Plato and Napoleon have no direct bearing on performing surgery or negotiating a corporate merger, but I don't want to trust my body or my economy to myopic 'vocationally trained' automatons that have never heard of Plato or Napoleon...(or cracked a work of literature, or studied a painting in context). The same goes for basic science, literature, composition, logic, etc. The lack of education in these broad, general, culturally foundational areas is why we have politicians who have no clue what evolution is, or how climate change works, or how women get pregnant.

- No, I have not 'pushed' my son towards college. With two professors as parents, both of whom have completed at least one degree in his lifetime, I think it's inevitable; he sees, first hand, that education is its own reward, and already observes the disastrous lack of education in our public figures. He's also painfully aware of how little actual education he's getting (and he's even in the advanced program, which I note not to brag, but to point to the lamentable state of education at large), and is often frustrated by it.
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Things I need to remember:
• Asking for help is not, as it turns out, fatal.
• Laughing is easier than pulling your hair out, and doesn't have the unfortunate side effect of making you look like a plague victim.
• Even the biggest tasks can be defeated if taken a bit at a time.
• I can write a paper the night before it's due, but the results are not all they could be.
• Be thorough, but focused.
• Trust yourself.
• Honesty, always.

Historians are the Cassandras of the Humanities

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