Archive for the ‘PREPARING CHILDREN FOR A COMPETITIVE WORLD’ Tag

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ARE UNIVERSITIES SHORTCHANGING CURRENT STUDENTS? OR IS CANADA CHANGING ENTIRELY WHAT EDUCATION MEANS AND TO ITS FUTURE DISADVANTAGE?   Leave a comment

 

 

 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY JEFFREY SIMPSON IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Yes, indeed, the university has become a commodity, as a reader below observes.

And of course the universities – since they are in effect paid by the pound – want to move as great batches through as they can, and at the lowest possible cost. Economic reality does not end at the doors to whatever hallowed hall.

But there is more to the issue than that.

Part of what we are seeing is the result of dozens of years of grade inflation and “social promotion” in our public schools.

It is also the result of “democratizing” higher education. In effect, we’ve said that almost anyone is entitled to a degree in something or other, and that we reject the long-held idea that university is for the best and brightest.

We even had a woman create a controversy because she could not attend with and assist her mentally-handicapped child in university – that case surely highlights some of what we are doing. As does the fact we are graduating tens of thousands whose costly degrees have virtually zero economic value in the day-to-day world.

Our universities are coming offer degrees in almost anything you can name. This is the American model in which “degrees” are offered in subjects like circus, playground management, television studies, etc. We’re well along the way to aping the practice.

Of course, degrees of that nature are virtually meaningless and of no real value as investments in education.

Our once wonderful polytechs and community colleges are all clamoring to get in on the action too by becoming universities. Then everyone working there becomes a “professor” and every graduate gets a “degree.”

My favorite example of the cynicism of “professional educators” today is found in our schools or faculties of education. Every year they pour out new batches nobody needs or wants. Schools mostly aren’t hiring. And even if they were, many of these graduates still would not be desirable as teachers, undergoing as they do an almost non-academic, even anti-intellectual, year of study.

But the staff at the teachers’ colleges are kept employed. And the students are kept off the streets for one year. And politicians like McGuinty can blubber about being friendly to education.

And the poor students, soon to be seriously disillusioned, pile up mountains of debt.

We really are building ourselves into a second- or third-rate educational system and making our country into a not-very-effective competitor for a fiercely competitive future.

High school graduates in Korea or China know far more than half of our university graduates.