We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Thursday, April 10. 2014
Walter Russell Mead:
The Coming Reformation of Higher Ed - See more at: http://www.mindingthecampus.com/originals/2014/04/walter_russell_meadthe_coming_.html#sthash.7AxYNmjI.dpuf
But who would design that exam, Prof. Mead? I'd be willing to do it, but then higher ed would "teach to the test."
My BA test would include things like (for examples) Calculus, Physics and Physical Chemistry, Plato, Econ, the Ming Dynasty, John Locke, molecular Bio, Michelangelo, one or two languages, basic Law and Civics, basics of Engineering, Geography and Geology, Roman history, Sophocles, Bach's music, the Bible, and Augustine. Plus an essay on a random topic during the exam.
The degree would mean something, if done my way, and separate the slackers from the scholars. Could kids pass it? Well, how about just a score on it, then? But who would care? It doesn't take a fancy degree to sell software or bonds, to write code, or to make Chai Latte.
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Question 1 on the National Common Core B.A. Equivalency Exam:
"Please describe how homophobia, racism and sexism have oppressed minorities and enabled a patriarchal hegemony in our society."
Race, sex, and sexual orientation would be required info to know how to curve scores.
The reality that this "reasoned solution" ignores is fundamental:
some students grow up in households without education, but more importantly is the fact that some--a very few (GW Bush, Cary Nelson, etc.) are born into families with expanded, sophisticated, generations old tradition of education. A tradition that includes sophisticated understanding of philosophy, math, reasoning, language, and history as well as all the facets of an advanced understanding of business. These students I have encountered in undergraduate programs and are light years ahead of the average American high school graduate. They were ahead of their classmates in 2nd, 6th, 12th grades and the levels of learning in between. They get it at the dining room table at night, on long walks with their dad or mom, etc. MOST do not get to start this life growing up in a milieu those advanced understandings. Sooo, how do we compensate for that social/class advantage? This article does not acknowledge that reality. It only seeks to further punishment on America's white middle class.
Pardon me--trouble with the machine today. Here is the rest of that comment:
I know you will respond with GW being stupid--that is not my call. My concern is that those who grow up in families of wealth and power already have the advantage before they even go to college.
If you are not willing to penalize any/all for corrupt acts you will never repair the damage that has been done to our educational system. Anyone from any ethnic group must be held accountable for a declared level of ethical behavior. Without that agreement we are wasting our time here.
Private companies once relied on aptitude tests to help determine whom to hire more than they do today. Why couldn't they step up such testing to find talent, bypassing the education cartel altogether? Are there courts decisions standing in the way of this? Anyone know?
I'm not sure why this is considered punishment.
The students from average families still have opportunity to take classes through the traditional system.
But more importantly, those w/ initiative benefit, regardless of social/class advantage. Most everyone can go to the library (or now on line) and read Plato. Better actually to read Plato, than to hear someone's thoughts on Plato.
My parents didn't graduate from HS. But they did get me a set of encyclopedias. So I read those and a whole lot of books, paid attention in math class, and it worked out.
I do not agree with the idea that you are somehow limited in life if you don't receive an ivy league education. Maybe that is because I grew up on the west coast where private schools and ivy league prestige is not that prevalent. We have Stanford and UC Berkeley, but I don't remember ever having a desire to go to these schools or feeling like I'd fail in life without a degree from either one of these places (and I was a very good student).
I have had a very successful career with a liberal arts degree from a small, private school. Nobody looked at my degree and thought I was an idiot. I did perfectly fine with my education.
Personally, I would rather see the K-12 model gotten rid of. I would rather have a level exam that a child can take at any time to move up to the next level. If he finishes high school work at 14, he can be done with K-12 schooling and move on to other education.
Extra credit: Discuss how this has contributed to global warming climate change climate calamity.
Whatever happened to the CLEP? My youngest daughter (now grandmotherly) took college level courses in high school, clepped a bunch of required lower level courses, and had her BA in 3½ years with plenty of room for a minor.
JFR: yes, the courts are standing in the way of aptitude tests. Any test which results in a disproportionate number of minorities/women failing is deemed to be racist/sexist, irregardless of employer intention, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. However, requiring a bachelor's degree for a barista job is somehow NOT racist, despite the fact that fewer minorities have college degrees. Go figure.
BillH: CLEP is alive and well, although getting more expensive by the year. Other than the military, it's not much used, for two reasons. First, it's expensive (although not as expensive as resident college)-- basically gambling a few hundred bucks that you can test well. Second, and more importantly, colleges don't have to accept it as credit-- most will only count it toward general credits to graduate, not requirements in your major. Which means that you're going to end up taking most of those CLEP credits over anyway.
The BA is basically a signalling device that you can behave presentably in a middle-class, highly verbal environment. The CLEP does not signal that, nor do industry certificates, MOOC completions, and so on. A BA from an expensive school signals that you come from the upper-middle-class (or can imitate coming from an upper-middle-class family for an extended period of time), and it gives you a multi-year chance to network with similar folk, who have family and family friends who can hook you up with work afterward. Shortening the time to degree will not provide the same social benefits... so if a three year BA degree becomes common, I would expect that the "real" benefit would migrate to those who did a fourth year "studying" abroad, or an "internship" in an extremely expensive metro area, or had a "social entrepreneurship" year, or whatever. That is, the fourth (or fifth) year would be replaced by an even more extravagant luxury lifestyle purchase than currently.
"But they'll teach to the test!"
Easily solved. Make a test that cannot be passed by rote memorization.
And teaching to the test would be an improvement over the current situation, which is to teach to nothing.
"Why couldn't they step up such testing to find talent, bypassing the education cartel altogether?"
Because that would be "racist." Do you want to know the reason ? Shut up !
You wouldn't have one big test based on some arbitrary idea of what a BA means. You would do it like the maritime licensing exams where individuals take modules covering specific areas. Prove you know Calculus, take the Calculus module. Prove you know Plato, take the Plato exam.... Some combination of exams would mean they'd give you the fancy piece of paper with fancy Latin words on it.
But other languages? Really, if you want or are going to live somewhere, maybe. But otherwise, outside English, they are vanities. English is the lingua franca just because it was the language when the world got small. But learning another language just to learn is a vanity achievement. And if your argument is that it helps you understand the world, then the other language should be one of the various from India or Mongolian. Certainly not a European language, except maybe German (also Japanese) if you want to read scientific papers
If the test was designed according to the Barrister, about 5-10% of the studend population would be able to pass it. I guess that was historically about the % that ever went to university and what the university was designed for.
Given that college is now presented to a much broader audience, a less strenuous exam would be more appropriate. I like JBK's suggestion, have modules and take a combination of modules that relates to your course of studies and future career ambitions.
The only languages that might be useful is Spanish due to proximity and Latin just because. Beyond that unless you're a fan of a particular culture and plan to emerse in it, you'll quickly forget most of what you learned.
I don't think foreign languages are taught in K12 intending to actually "teach" them. I think the ulterior motive is to hire foreign language teachers. Have you ever actually met anyone proficient in a foreigh language that learned it in high school? Our teaching system consists of vying special interests whose jobs depend on them getting their specialty placed on the curriculum. It is little different from those who insist we have classes in gender, race and sexual orientation. What the public schools need is a purge of useless classes and more attention paid to classes that will actually help students in life.
I took 4 years of Spanish in high school from native speakers (lots of native speakers in my state who were also U.S. citizens). My senior year I took AP Spanish. So I beg to differ on your claim of no one in high school actually learning a language! In fact, I ended up with a 2nd major in Spanish in college and studied abroad in Mexico....oh, and I ended up as a linguist in the military. Depends on your aptitude and interest in a foreign language before you see results. I could say the same thing about Chemistry in high school or Geometry. Show me someone who remembers any of that to a degree that is helpful...?
HS Chem? Not so much, it's too basic.
Physics? I've used a great deal of my HS physics in my work as a scientist.
Same w/ geometry, as I worked in optics for a while (w/ no formal optics classes in college).
And I'd argue that my HS Drivers Ed and typing classes were worth their while.
You may be the exception. You became so fluent in Spanish in high school that you qualified as a linguist. That is indeed an accomplishment not typical of high school Spanish.
Your link is broken. I did a Google search and found these two links:
[url] http://www.mindingthecampus.com/originals/2014/04/walter_russell_meadthe_coming_.html [/url]
[url] http://www.manhattan-institute.org/multimedia/events/040114CAU/ [/url]