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Offline DakotaT  
#16 Posted : Tuesday, December 31, 2013 3:03:45 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: texaspackerbacker Go to Quoted Post


Your words sound strangely like those of the people you HATE so much - achievers/entrepreneurs.



See this is where you are confused. I don't hate them per se. I'm just very appalled that they have the nerve to cry, piss, and moan about paying the taxes that go along with their success. It's greed I hate, and the hypocrisy these people have by thinking they are Christians, not the actual people themselves. There is a real big flaw in your whole perception of me.

Happy New Years to you to Texas. One day we'll discuss why I'm such an a$hole to you, but for now, we'll just all enjoy the ride. Big Grin
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Offline Wade  
#17 Posted : Tuesday, December 31, 2013 3:46:38 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: DakotaT Go to Quoted Post
I once completed a 3 credit college course in 1 weekend and they had to change the online rules because of me. I'm quite proud of that actually. You guys are lightweights and I laugh at some of the pompous attitudes presented, not necessarily yours Wade.


I remember when I went to college, I was told to expect a minimum of 2-3 hours of work outside of class for every hour of credit I took. Math, language courses, others that assigned specific daily homework exercises, I was told, usually meant more. Science courses with labs (which was all of them, then, unlike now) -- well, expect the labs to take as long as it took, and some of them (intro bio, intro chem) were notorious for "going 3-4 hours or more with great regularity. My French 1 class was entirely in French (including every word in the textbook) -- it was about a third of the way through the term when I finally got the courage to go to the profs office and found out she actually spoke English (and was from southern california).

This gradually evolved. About ten years ago, "minimum of 2-3 hours per..." became "up to 2-3 hours".

Now? Well, based on what students self-report on their course evaluations (of profs, not of us), about half of students spend less than 2-3 hours per week.

A big part of this, of course, is due to the mistaken belief that everyone has to have a college degree. And so we have what the statistical types call a "bi-modal" distribution of students. About half have come out of the top third of their high schools -- these are the same sort of people who went to college straight from high school for the fifties, sixties, seventies, and part of the eighties.

The other half? Mostly from the next third, with extra weight on the people at the bottom of that range, between the 30th and the 50th percentile.

Personally, I don't think most of the people going to college today should be in college. Not because they are too "dumb", though, but because they are not ready for college level work, they have better things to do with their early adulthood, or both. But put that aside -- it's a free country and if they think a college education is what is needed, then they should be free to make as many dunderheaded and expensive and life-wasting decisions as I and others have made as adults.

But effectively teaching a bi-modal group is next to impossible the way the education system is set up. At least I have found it so.

When I abandoned my first career and went back to graduate school, it was because I wanted to teach. But I did not want to teach high schoolers -- my memories as one of the bookish in high school are mostly unpleasant, and I wanted to be in a place where students were there because they wanted to be there and because they, more or less, liked the kind of thinking/activity that used books/libraries/classrooms/etc., people who liked the idea of hanging out with and talking with professor/teacher types.

Oh, I realize that college was never this kind of ideal -- my late brother was a frat boy from whom I learned to expect a college town to have something like Water Street in Eau Claire (where he went) or State Street in Madison (where my sister went). Partying, sports, sex -- these are and were a big part of the life, too.

But what is different is this: in my day, in my brother's, everyone accepted that "the academics" were a full time job that came lots of overtime and weekend work. That when push comes to shove, and something has to give, it is the other stuff that must give. You want to do the Greek thing like John Belushi in Animal House? Well, you might be able to do it, but you ain't going to graduate. You want/need to work full time? Well, then you're going to have to give up your weekends and work into the wee hours on your books. You want to get involved in a cause or political campaign? Well, you better go part time or take a semester off? You want to keep getting the A's you got in high school, well, expect to work most weekends and still be disappointed because the kids here are a lot tougher competition than they were in high school?

Well, that world is gone. They aren't called "extra-curricular" activities any more. They're called "co-curricular" activities, and the academic part is the less important part.

Be clear here: the real problem is not that we emphasize sports and similar extra/co-curricular activities too much (though personally, I think we do). The real problem is not that the professorial types are ivory tower types with little understanding of the "real world" (though, IMO, we are).

No, the real problem is that acquiring the real skills that colleges and universities at their best have been about is bloody hard work, stuff that takes as much work and practice and time as any professional job.

I don't mean the skills of the 3 R's -- while, of necessity we find ourselves having to spend a lot of time on these, those are skills that students should have before starting college.

I mean the next-order skills that one builds on a foundation of those 3 R's, life experience, and habits of careful thinking and observation. Skills of synthesizing information from a variety of sources. Skills of being to assess and evaluate that information. Skills of collaborating with people with different interests and motivations. Skills of being able to do all these things without supervision and detailed instructions. Skills of knowing when to lead and when to follow. Skills of knowing when to draw an analogy and when not to. Skills of listening. Skills of logic and empirics and observation. Skills of learning how to deal with a$holes and the unfairness of life that go beyond pointing fingers of blame and running home to mommy, daddy, and Big Brother.

We can debate whether going off to college is the best way for a 20-year-old to acquire and develop these next-order skills. I personally think we need to find a way to return to the older master/apprentice model.

But the reality is that before we can find the best way, we must first understand and accept that whatever way we choose will demand full-time attention (or more) from the student/apprentice/learner/whatever. And they -- and we, as the society who allows them the time to give that attention -- must accept that demand. The student/apprentice must accept the reality that adults -- even learning adults -- don't get the choice of "both" anywhere as often as the spoiled child does. Those of us who would have our young adults do this learning must accept the reality that they're going to have to be supported. Those of us who would have those learners do other things, whether they are sports, frats, jobs, music groups, political action, or anything else, must recognize that we are going to be relegated to second place or third place or fourth place.

And we need to understand that we're not talking about finding ways to do all these things for an elite 5-10% of the young adult like the old days. We have to find ways of doing all these things for 50-70% of that population,

Until we do that, until we come to grips with what those potential learners of skills must be doing with *the great majority of their waking hours,* all the ideas and the government funding and the task groups and the yammering about the problems of higher education are going.

Because Kevin is absolutely correct. It's not about giving those young adults anything. It's not about serving them. It's not about centering ourselves on their needs. It's about what they can (l)earn. It's about the time they put into it, and how they put the time in.

Edited by user Tuesday, December 31, 2013 4:05:56 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
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Offline Wade  
#18 Posted : Tuesday, December 31, 2013 4:03:29 PM(UTC)
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One other bit: While the bi-modal distribution of students makes my job and those of my fellow prof-teacher-types more difficult, mine is NOT a call to start discouraging those between the 30th and 70ths percentiles from going to college because they are in between the 30th and 70th percentiles. I think ALL 18-year olds should be presumptively discouraged from going to college regardless of how well they did in high school or on the SAT/ACT.

The problem isn't that we're admitting students who are intellectually not "up to it." That's just elitist bullsh*t. The problem is that we are failing to insist on sufficient commitment to the enterprise of learning next-order skills, commitment that exceeds their commitment to anything else. (Or, at least, to channel the great Vince, anything other than God and family.)

I would rather work with students who had a high school GPA of 2.4 and an ACT of 15 who was willing to put in 50,60,70, whatever it takes hours to learn the skills I want him or her to develop, than students who had a GPA of 4.0 and an ACT of 32 who is trying to "fit academics in" among his/her desire to sing soprano, write for the college newspaper, travel with the debate team, and play on the soccer team.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
Offline texaspackerbacker  
#19 Posted : Wednesday, January 1, 2014 7:16:11 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: DakotaT Go to Quoted Post
See this is where you are confused. I don't hate them per se. I'm just very appalled that they have the nerve to cry, piss, and moan about paying the taxes that go along with their success. It's greed I hate, and the hypocrisy these people have by thinking they are Christians, not the actual people themselves. There is a real big flaw in your whole perception of me.

Happy New Years to you to Texas. One day we'll discuss why I'm such an a$hole to you, but for now, we'll just all enjoy the ride. Big Grin


It's kinda strange how you always try to twist things around to being about yourself.

It is NORMAL and NATURAL for anybody/everybody to hate having their own money grabbed by corrupt and wasteful politicians i.e. taxes.

Being a Christian - or not - is 1. a matter of heart and mind, about which neither you nor I nor any person other than the individual are qualified to judge and 2. a matter of very specific criteria outlined in the Bible - commonly called the "means of Salvation" - which you have consistently demonstrated that you know very little about. Your labeling of a whole very large class of people as hypocritically something other than Christian is in itself the height of hypocrisy and Biblical ignorance.

I really don't care one way or the other about you "being an a$hole to me" - I didn't even realize I was being singled out hahahaha. It ain't about me; It's all about America and Americans in general, both of which you irrationally but consistently disrespect and spew hate about. But what the hell, go for it if that's the way you roll. What's gonna happen is gonna happen regardless of your or my poor power to add or detract.

With the new year beginning, may God CONTINUE to bless the United States of America, the greatest force for good in the history of the world - even though you probably will spit on that concept, Dakota hahahaha, as your past words so often demonstrate.
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Offline DoddPower  
#20 Posted : Thursday, January 2, 2014 10:02:33 AM(UTC)
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I don't know Wade, but my education was basically exactly as your described. Unbelievably hard work, long hours, long weekend work, etc. In fact, it was my routine to study on Friday afternoon/night until about 7 pm (which equated to about 6 hours). Most students checked out early on Fridays, around 1 pm or so. I usually took Saturdays off unless it was an extra busy time. I got right back to it on Sundays and studied for at least 3-5 hours. During the week, I also studied or read in between classes, which was at least a few hours every day of the week. I didn't necessarily study every night after classes, but I often did . . . so at least a few hours a week. All in all, the model of at least 2-3 hours of study time for each credit hour held mostly true. Of course there were some classes that were exceptions, but there are always exceptions. A lot of that has to do with the Professor. Also, other students spent less time studying, but those were generally students who either understood the material more easily than me, or just didn't have a true passion for what they were doing. Many of those individuals careers today reflect that lack of passion, so that seems fair to me.

Of course I stayed in the engineering, chemistry, physics, biology, and other science classes, so maybe that's why. You liberal art studies people are a different bunch. Those disciplines teach great life skills, which may ultimately be more important than technical job skills, but that still doesn't make it any easier to find a job afterwards. Of course, I know a lot of people that are afraid to move for jobs, which really limits their ability to maximize their talent. I was having a hard time finding a good job in the small town I was recently living in, so I moved across the country to correct that. It wasn't easy--and it still isn't--to be far away from all my friends and family, and not even realistically be able to make a weekend trip to see them (between the time off, plane tickets, etc.). But, it's what I, and many others, have to do to make the living we want. At least for a few years. One of my professors always told me "Do whatever it takes--wherever it takes--to get your experience, then worry about where you are living." I found that advice to be particularly true in today's world. There are good jobs available for most college graduates in the world . . . if they are willing to pursue and take them. I see so many of the people I grew up with complaining about how they can't find a job, but yet refuse to leave the tourist industry town they grew up in. True, it's a great place to live, but if they make the decision to stay there, they must accept the consequences and not complain about the tables they must wait to get by, despite that fancy psychology/philosophy/communications degree they have.

EDIT: And the above was all about undergrad. In graduate school, it was a full-time job and much more. I regularly worked 60 hour weeks, and sometimes more. My PhD office-mate routinely worked 75+ hour weeks, and often more than that. There was one PhD student that complained about working 100 hour weeks, but I'm not sure if she was exaggerating, or not. Perhaps that's just how experimental research projects go, though. Also, most students seemed to have a great mentor relationship with their research adviser, or at least their committee members.

Edited by user Thursday, January 2, 2014 4:37:27 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

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Offline texaspackerbacker  
#21 Posted : Thursday, January 2, 2014 11:09:24 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Wade Go to Quoted Post
One other bit: While the bi-modal distribution of students makes my job and those of my fellow prof-teacher-types more difficult, mine is NOT a call to start discouraging those between the 30th and 70ths percentiles from going to college because they are in between the 30th and 70th percentiles. I think ALL 18-year olds should be presumptively discouraged from going to college regardless of how well they did in high school or on the SAT/ACT.

The problem isn't that we're admitting students who are intellectually not "up to it." That's just elitist bullsh*t. The problem is that we are failing to insist on sufficient commitment to the enterprise of learning next-order skills, commitment that exceeds their commitment to anything else. (Or, at least, to channel the great Vince, anything other than God and family.)

I would rather work with students who had a high school GPA of 2.4 and an ACT of 15 who was willing to put in 50,60,70, whatever it takes hours to learn the skills I want him or her to develop, than students who had a GPA of 4.0 and an ACT of 32 who is trying to "fit academics in" among his/her desire to sing soprano, write for the college newspaper, travel with the debate team, and play on the soccer team.



As always, Wade, you have an interesting take on things. You wouldn't have liked me as a student. I coasted through college with hardly a lick of work - never an A grade in four years, and a B--- average. And it wasn't because of all those moderately virtuous outside activities you mentioned; It was pure sloth/laziness. I don't remember my ACT, but my SAT was 656/757 = 1413, so it was high potential/low achiever all the way.

I think I agree with your general theme - the apprentice/master thing. Are you somehow talking about applying that to academics - which seems impractical? Or do you mean learning "trades"? Heaven knows, we need more good plumbers/electricians/mechanics/etc. than history or business majors or even engineering types, and the law of supply and demand is supporting that more and more, pay-wise.

Another aspect is that most courses and professors (I strongly suspect you are the exception) don't teach anything worthwhile anyway - not just because of elitist ideas that students aren't capable of learning, but because of equally elitist ideas about curriculum. And I would not just indict liberal arts teaching on that; I've seen it in business and heard second hand even in engineering type studies that things are watered down to far more "concepts" than actual "nuts and bolts".

The only thing I disagree slightly with you about is students "being prepared" for learning. I think most nowadays are not. While Kevin's statement which you endorsed - that students shouldn't be "given" anything - but made to "earn" it instead - may be the way things SHOULD be, if that was the true standard, you probably would have about a 90-95% washout rate - only 5-10% passing courses/graduating/etc. - due to the rotten values the younger generation has in terms of priorities in life. Vince would turn over in his grave. Blame the teaching; Blame society; Blame families; Blame people themselves; I don't know, but it seems like a solid majority nowadays have a don't care attitude about learning.
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Offline Wade  
#22 Posted : Thursday, January 2, 2014 5:12:18 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: DoddPower Go to Quoted Post


(snip)

A lot of that has to do with the Professor. Also, other students spent less time studying, but those were generally students who either understood the material more easily than me, or just didn't have a true passion for what they were doing. Many of those individuals careers today reflect that lack of passion, so that seems fair to me.

Of course I stayed in the engineering, chemistry, physics, biology, and other science classes, so maybe that's why. You liberal art studies people are a different bunch. Those disciplines teach great life skills, which may ultimately be more important than technical job skills, but that still doesn't make it any easier to find a job afterwards. Of course, I know a lot of people that are afraid to move for jobs, which really limits their ability to maximize their talent. I was having a hard time finding a good job in the small town I was recently living in, so I moved across the country to correct that.

EDIT: And the above was all about undergrad. In graduate school, it was a full-time job and much more. I regularly worked 60 hour weeks, and sometimes more. My PhD office-mate routinely worked 75+ hour weeks, and often more than that. There was one PhD student that complained about working 100 hour weeks, but I'm not sure if she was exaggerating, or not. Perhaps that's just how experimental research projects go, though. Also, most students seemed to have a great mentor relationship with their research adviser, or at least their committee members.


Dodd, you make many good points. (When did you graduate/go to grad school, btw?)

1. I do think there is a significant difference between the natural sciences/engineering and the "liberal arts" students. Even here at a B.A.-only institution, the biology/pre-med/chem/physics students are working under the old "2-3 hrs minimum" rule.
2. And I also agree that part of it is the professor. Even in those liberal arts disciplines, there are professors who can demand and get that kind of commitment from their students. But the number is declining, at least if the preliminary data from our recent course evaluations are any indication. It isn't just "easy" professors like me whose students report the lack of effort -- that doesn't surprise me; but its also colleagues who have historically had less problem either because of charisma/teaching style or because of difficulty/hard grading.
3. I'm not sure I agree about the liberal arts teaching good "life skills." Oh, we liberal arts types may be more "well-rounded", but we're also pretty damn naive and without the observational and "outside world" experience that real life skills require.
4. If liberal arts students have an advantage, it isn't in life skills but in what in my book I'm calling "next order skills" -- the skills of synthesis, of crossing disciplines, of collaboration, of flexibility, of openness to innovation.
Or at least that has been the historical advantage. I'm not sure it's as big as it used to be, because if you look at what constitutes liberal arts education today, whether it happens at a mega-university or at a small liberal arts college like mine, the number of students who are failing to develop those next order skills is chillingly large.


And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
Offline Wade  
#23 Posted : Thursday, January 2, 2014 6:08:32 PM(UTC)
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Be warned, all: This is going to be a very long post.I I warmed up with my reply to DoddPower, and I've been working on my "future of higher ed class/book much of the day, so I'm going to try to put lots of things in this one reply....]

Originally Posted by: texaspackerbacker Go to Quoted Post
As always, Wade, you have an interesting take on things. You wouldn't have liked me as a student. I coasted through college with hardly a lick of work - never an A grade in four years, and a B--- average. And it wasn't because of all those moderately virtuous outside activities you mentioned; It was pure sloth/laziness. I don't remember my ACT, but my SAT was 656/757 = 1413, so it was high potential/low achiever all the way.

Other than in my first year and in subjects I was really into (i.e., economics, calculus), I was more a partier and sloth than you might think. I drank a *lot*.) And even though my college GPA of 3.86 ended up being considerably higher than my high school (about 3.3), I really didn't work much harder. Ironically, that one year I did work hard (year one) was the lowest GPA of the four.

I hung out with the geeks rather than jocks and Greeks, but I didn't really work much more.

It wasn't until the first year of law school that I discovered the need to put in 80-100 hour weeks. And that is the only time in my life, before or since, that I can actually I say I *enjoyed* hard, sustained work. I'm lazy from way back.

But I think what allowed me to excel (at least into my late 20s) was that I had the ability to seriously concentrate periodically on a project. To temporarily abandon my sloth and focus my mind on "doing what it takes" from time to time. I'm not talking about cramming the night before an exam or paper deadline -- the first time I took that approach was a corporate finance class in my third year of law school. I'm speaking of something that allowed me to have a seriously productive period of a week, two weeks, or a month often enough that I could get the things done that the teacher wanted done. In between, I played pool and pinball, read a lot of stuff that was not assigned by anyone, and imagined myself a practicing connoisseur of alcoholic beverages.

All of this personal babbling is by way of lead in -- Partly because I remember what I used to be like, I don't mind people that are slothful with respect to my classes. 95+ percent of people are in my classes because it satisfies some distribution requirement, because it is required for another major, or because someone has told them it is important to "have some economics". I've been there. And my response often was exactly the same.

That corp finance course, for example. Up to that point, it was mostly the business/economics courses that I really got off in law school -- contracts, property, corporations, securities, etc. But I was so underwhelmed by the "national authority" teaching this class that I pretty much stopped doing any significant daily prep about a third of the way. Ten pm. the night before the 9 a.m. final (which was 100% of the course grade), I and another guy started studying. And both of us ended up with solid B-type grades. Big Grin [Unfortunately, this paragraph contains all the knowledge I retained from this class, and so when, down the road, I was working on a dissertation on the history of corporation law, I had to go back and confront the material from scratch.

No, my problem with today's higher ed is that it isn't just classes "outside their interest" or classes "by rotten professor Wade" that they fail to put in the time on. It's that they don't put in the time (other than cramming time) even in their major or in the field they want to work in.

It's that lack of passion that DoddPower refers to that bugs me.

One of the components in every one of my classes is "research." Sometimes this requires a paper, sometimes it is an ongoing journal, sometimes it focuses on making a presentation. But I always try to design them in such a way that a student can choose to spend their project time on "something that really matters to them, like a job they want to have, what they want to do after college, what they like to do when they don't have to study econ, etc. And I tell them, "don't worry about it connecting to the class, I'll make sure that happens later in the term."

Because even though I was a sloth, a lot of my sloth time was spent in the current periodicals room of the library (today it would be spent surfing the 'Net). Reading, browsing magazines on who knows what (architecture held me for awhile, as did politics. Sometimes this took me to the stacks -- finding the appropriate Lib of Congress classification and then wandering and seeing what books on Frank Lloyd Wright or classical liberalism might be worth a look as I avoided the accounting or English or astronomy homework.

And so even though I was blowing off my classes, I was doing it in a way that ended up increasing my human capital and helping develop those next order skills -- despite my slothful preferences.

But when I give the students the opportunity to focus on *their* interests and get credit for it, very few take advantage of that opportunity. If they're good little drones, they complain about how the project wastes time (because it doesn't allow them to leverage their largely useless abilities to score high on tests); if they're slothful, they ... well, I'm not sure what they do. What 90 percent of them do not do is dig into a career/life path/hobby they claim to be serious about or at least have a substantial interest in.

(to be continued -- I just realized I may need to break this into more than one post. Yes, it's going to be *that* long. Sorry. I did warn y'all.)
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
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Offline Wade  
#24 Posted : Thursday, January 2, 2014 7:24:05 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: texaspackerbacker Go to Quoted Post


I think I agree with your general theme - the apprentice/master thing. Are you somehow talking about applying that to academics - which seems impractical? Or do you mean learning "trades"? Heaven knows, we need more good plumbers/electricians/mechanics/etc. than history or business majors or even engineering types, and the law of supply and demand is supporting that more and more, pay-wise.



Er, well sorta both, and sorta neither.

In my opinion, two major educational developments necessary for the industrializing world of the late 19th and 20th centuries are involved here. Both were necessary for the economic and cultural expansion that industrialization could bring. Neither is appropriate in today's post-industrial world. One was the institutional separation of "liberal" and "technical" education. The other was the replacement of the master-apprentice model with a model built around schools, the time clock, and book learning.

Progress in an industrial society requires both scale and conformity in its educational processes. Industrialization is about mass production, about repetitive tasks; and its about getting the same level of quality every time, about sharing the goals of the community or the company, about producing what you're told to produce and consuming what "everyone" consumes.

And if you want to have conforming workers and consumers, you need education that emphasizes those values. Education that is divided into periods, where everyone learns the content and/or concepts from the same books, where degrees certify the conformity of the degree-holder to the standards of his/her discipline, etc.

Education that is scalable for mass man. The "liberal arts" education as conceived in the industrial world was never to be for everyone, only for the elite 5-10% who would run things and decide what the masses needed to produce and consume. Everyone else? Education needed to ensure they would behave, work hard, and consume as the elites wanted them to consume.

Everyone (everyone in the 90-95%, at least) needed the time-work discipline, everyone needed to consume based on what "everyone" was consuming, everyone needed to buy into the need to "find a trade" or "find a job" or "be a worker," everyone had to learn the basic requirements of being a good citizen in an industrial democracy.

Master-apprentice was not scalable this way. It was (and is) too individualized, too labor intensive, not just for the apprentice, but for the master. We can't get the mass output we need from it, and without the output, we can't get the mass consumption either.

Neither was liberal education. It is not a historical accident that two of the signature institutions of liberal education -- the Oxbridge tutorial system, and the modern doctoral degree -- have only worked for a very small fraction of the population. The "teacher" in each case has a labor-intensive job to work individually with the "student" that is essentially the traditional one of master and apprentice.

The educational innovations of 19th and 20th century were brilliant for an industrial world. For a post-industrial society, however, they simply won't work. Because a post-industrial society won't work directed by 5-10 percent of the population. A post industrial world demands that 25 percent, 50 percent, maybe even 75 percent of the "workforce" has those next order skills.

Somehow, some way, we have to scale the teaching and learning of what has never before been scalable -- those next-order skills of synthesis, collaboration, etc. Next-order skills that aren't about conformity and doing things the way everyone does them, but about innovation and doing things differently. Skills about going outside the box, about re-inventing the box, and about how, as that little kid in The Matrix might put it, "There is no box."
Quote:


Another aspect is that most courses and professors (I strongly suspect you are the exception) don't teach anything worthwhile anyway - not just because of elitist ideas that students aren't capable of learning, but because of equally elitist ideas about curriculum. And I would not just indict liberal arts teaching on that; I've seen it in business and heard second hand even in engineering type studies that things are watered down to far more "concepts" than actual "nuts and bolts".



*All* educational notions of "curriculum" up to this point have been elitist, whether they came out of Oxford and Cambridge, Harvard, or the land grant university. In the pre-industrial world this was because curriculum was something only elites worried about. If you are a blacksmith learning the trade, you don't have a institutionalized "curriculum" (much less one determined by the state). You have each master blacksmith deciding (based on the particulars of his experience, ethics, and skills) what his apprentices did and in what order.

Curriculum matters only to the extent you believe a trade, a skill, a knowledge base, a productive activity, or a consuming activity, demands conformity to "the way." Curriculum is something we choose to ensure that "the way" we value is followed by those who complete it.

I used to be really big on the need for particular curricular choices. Got really involved in discussions about them, got really mad/frustrated when I saw the curricular choices our institution mad 5-8 years ago.

And I have increasingly come to believe that curricular choice isn't as important as everyone thinks. I now think it matters only insofar as it affects (for good or ill) the processes of learning, only insofar as it makes it more or less likely that the student will commit to learning in a way that develops those next order skills.

Content -- either "conceptual" content or "nuts and bolts" -- that's still important, but only in regard to the technical elements of specific crafts. A master plumber needs the "nuts and bolts" of how to install sinks and toilets; and he also needs the "conceptual content" of when particular diameters of pipe are needed and when they are not.

It's far less relevant to the development of those next order skills which are about determining which crafts are key to solution of a particular problem, which should be synthesized, which should be ignored, which should be relied on, etc.

What matters in development of those skills is (i) providing opportunities for the student to practice "learning" in ways that ensure those next order skills get developed through that practice, and (ii) figuring out how to ensure that the student commits to taking advantage of those opportunities.


Quote:


The only thing I disagree slightly with you about is students "being prepared" for learning. I think most nowadays are not. While Kevin's statement which you endorsed - that students shouldn't be "given" anything - but made to "earn" it instead - may be the way things SHOULD be, if that was the true standard, you probably would have about a 90-95% washout rate - only 5-10% passing courses/graduating/etc. - due to the rotten values the younger generation has in terms of priorities in life. Vince would turn over in his grave. Blame the teaching; Blame society; Blame families; Blame people themselves; I don't know, but it seems like a solid majority nowadays have a don't care attitude about learning.


I don't know if it is possible to "prepare" someone else for learning, not when it comes to the learning of the next-order skills. I think the notion that *we* can do this for *them* is at the heart of our failures. I can't learn for you. Only you can learn for you. And any "preparation" for your learning itself requires you to learn to prepare. Your learning,any of your learning, is your responsibility and your power and your decision. Nothing I can do and nothing I don't do will change that.

This is why I rant so often about the idiocy of "student centered learning", which is all about what the teacher does or does not to educate the "whole student. What we need to figure out is not how to center our teachers better on our students' needs, but how to center our students better on their own learning. We don't want student-centered learning. We want learning centered students.

In my opinion, young people are always going to have some of the wrong priorities in life -- because figuring out what the right priorities are in significant part something that has to be learned.

To my mind a "teacher" has two jobs, and only two:
1. To provide his or her students with opportunities to learn (and, in the case of higher ed, those are primarily opportunities to learn next-order skills); and
2. To strive to persuade the students that taking advantage of those opportunities is worth the effort and cost of doing so.

Everything else -- EVERYTHING ELSE -- connected with learning is the student's job.

IMO.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
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texaspackerbacker on 1/2/2014(UTC)
Offline DakotaT  
#25 Posted : Thursday, January 2, 2014 9:59:46 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: texaspackerbacker Go to Quoted Post
It's kinda strange how you always try to twist things around to being about yourself.

It is NORMAL and NATURAL for anybody/everybody to hate having their own money grabbed by corrupt and wasteful politicians i.e. taxes.

Being a Christian - or not - is 1. a matter of heart and mind, about which neither you nor I nor any person other than the individual are qualified to judge and 2. a matter of very specific criteria outlined in the Bible - commonly called the "means of Salvation" - which you have consistently demonstrated that you know very little about. Your labeling of a whole very large class of people as hypocritically something other than Christian is in itself the height of hypocrisy and Biblical ignorance.

I really don't care one way or the other about you "being an a$hole to me" - I didn't even realize I was being singled out hahahaha. It ain't about me; It's all about America and Americans in general, both of which you irrationally but consistently disrespect and spew hate about. But what the hell, go for it if that's the way you roll. What's gonna happen is gonna happen regardless of your or my poor power to add or detract.

With the new year beginning, may God CONTINUE to bless the United States of America, the greatest force for good in the history of the world - even though you probably will spit on that concept, Dakota hahahaha, as your past words so often demonstrate.



Being a capitalist is not "hard earned money". And it is not wrong to tax the sh*t out of people hoarding and sheltering money. It is however disingenuous of you to call these sorts of people Christians. They serve their greed not God.

It isn't to difficult to judge blatant Greed, and those folks who wallow in it. It is completely awesome how the Pope is tearing the top earners around the world a new ass. But it also hypocritical of him to not open the Vatican's coffers to give their great wealth to the poor. I think it is funny how the leaders of the GOP are trying to take this subject on, to epic failure naturally.

God has blessed the United States, which makes it all the more sad that so many in this country serve the wrong master.
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Offline texaspackerbacker  
#26 Posted : Thursday, January 2, 2014 11:39:31 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: DakotaT Go to Quoted Post
Being a capitalist is not "hard earned money". And it is not wrong to tax the sh*t out of people hoarding and sheltering money. It is however disingenuous of you to call these sorts of people Christians. They serve their greed not God.

It isn't to difficult to judge blatant Greed, and those folks who wallow in it. It is completely awesome how the Pope is tearing the top earners around the world a new ass. But it also hypocritical of him to not open the Vatican's coffers to give their great wealth to the poor. I think it is funny how the leaders of the GOP are trying to take this subject on, to epic failure naturally.

God has blessed the United States, which makes it all the more sad that so many in this country serve the wrong master.


Did I say "hard earned"? Confiscating something that is owned is nothing more than theft - regardless of who is doing the stealing or who is being robbed, and regardless of the reason. It's "not wrong" to tax the sh*t out of ..... anybody YOU happen to HATE? Says who that it ain't wrong? You whine about hypocrisy, yet you have the gall to set yourself up as the arbiter of what's right and what's wrong?

Did I call the people you hate so irrationally "Christians"? Hell No! I merely said neither you nor I nor anybody else for that matter, know what is in people's hearts and minds. You - WEIRDLY - seem to think that you do. And if you want to judge on the basis of actions or behaviors - even that is forbidden according to the Bible, you simply are blind/wrongheaded/completely out of touch with the world and America in particular. You want to nail a whole segment of the population to the same cross with the worst of the worst. The maybe 20-30% you HATE so profusely is not deserved by more than maybe 2-3%, and even at the worst, the crap you whine and rant about is not criminal, but merely immorally taking advantage of things.

I'm not Catholic, and I'm not gonna expend much energy defending the Catholic Church. If you go by all that proceeds from the mouths of the pope and other Catholic leaders, it can be concluded that they know about as little of what the Bible says about being a Christian as you do. I'm not sure if it's still true, but I heard 20 or so years ago that more property is owned by the Catholic Church than is owned by any other single entity in the world. Anyway, this guy they call the "people's pope" can rant and whine, and his ranting and whining has just about as little effect on tangible things as ...... as YOUR whining and ranting, Dakota. For what it's worth, I kinda like the guy for a different reason. He is talking tough to the damn Muslims regarding the bullying and killing of Christians. Maybe he will turn out to be the anti-Christ hahaha - the religious leader of the Biblical forces of the Beast in Europe which will march into and conquer the middle east before the Return of Jesus. Anyway .......

Your last paragraph is kinda ambiguous. Who exactly do you see as the "wrong master"? Taken at face value, it sounds like you are coming down on the side of Good, but that would be radically out of character for you, so you ought to clarify - like that's ever gonna happen hahahaha.
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Offline texaspackerbacker  
#27 Posted : Friday, January 3, 2014 12:34:08 AM(UTC)
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Wade, as always, I enjoy reading your words. A lot of what you have to say, I don't feel real qualified to comment on, certainly not to criticize.

It occurs to me to ask, at what point in your life did you adopt your self-described anarchical viewpoints? The reason I ask is that type of radical individualism and rejection of authority seems kinda inconsistent with the "next order" skills you describe - synthesis, collaboration, etc. I don't disagree that those skills are useful, probably even needed, but they require either a mindset of cooperation or an authority to force that cooperation - whether it is in school, the workplace, or any other venue of society. What is your opinion of people - my kind of people to a great extent - who hate authority, and don't give a damn about cooperating? Yeah, I know "good citizens" like that are to be commended on some level, but I sure wouldn't want to be one, and from most of what I've read from you, I doubt you would enjoy being that way either.

For myself, I can easily coalesce in my own mind the attitude of "DEFY AUTHORITY" and being a "pro-American conservative American" i.e. enjoying life in the "post-industrial" a.k.a. IMO government regulation dominated world - the government regulations being the vehicle enabling those "next order skills", while continuing to fight the trend.

How about you? Are "next order skills" something you could enjoy? Or are they something to inflict on the 90-95%, but steer clear of yourself? Or do you see a way of accomplishing the indoctrination toward those "skills" without the disciplinary paddle of government regulations?
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Offline Wade  
#28 Posted : Friday, January 3, 2014 9:36:16 AM(UTC)
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There's no philosophical stance without contradictions, Tex, but as to how I reconcile my radical anti-statism or anarchism with my belief in education focused on next order skills, I guess it's something like this:

1.

Worldly success is determined by the skills we have and social coordination/cooperation is determined by the values we have. But you can't force people to develop skills or have particular values. You can only persuade them. What I strive to do as a "teacher" is persuade my students to develop their skills and values through the practicing of logic, examination of evidence, constructing their own arguments, etc.

2.

There is a fine line between persuasion and indoctrination since they use the same tools (argument, logic, data, etc.). I've occasionally been accuse of trying to indoctrinate my students, and it's a criticism I take very seriously.

I try to avoid the trap by being as transparent as I can about what I believe and where I stand. I regularly point out where mine is the minority view, what evidence others interpret differently, where the uncertainty lies, where I'm standing as a matter of faith, where my experience is limited, where I'm repeating myself, etc. I don't believe it is possible, on the important questions anyway, to be "objective" or "unbiased" -- "important" by its very name is a value judgment. So, instead, I focus on revealing my biases. And the more significant/surprising/controversial I believe my beliefs are, the more likely I see my convictions are going to be at odds with "what everyone believes" or "what they have been told by other teachers/leaders/smart people/role models, the more I emphasize that mine are "claims" rather than "truths". Indeed, I often explicitly call them "Wade claims" and tell them that "I haven't done enough to persuade you yet to agree with them." I also admit that some very smart people (and I will name names) do, or would if they knew I held them, consider my ideas loony.

My presentation of these ideas to students is very different than it is here or in my professional/public writings. Here, especially, I'm being an advocate trying to convince people to agree with me. As a professor, I'm trying to convince people to practice and think about how they think and decide.

3.

One of my core beliefs is that people behave out of self-interest in all they do. Another is that self-interest and selfishness are very different things. Selfishness is merely a subset of how we might pursue that self-interest, but it is not the only one. I believe Mother Theresa acted out of self-interest, but that her self-interest was improved by helping the unfortunate and the untouchable.

And I am a free market anarchist because I believe with Adam Smith that left to pursue our self-interest, we end up paying more attention, not less, to the interests of others. Left to pursue our self-interest we cooperate through trade using what Smith called "our natural propensity to truck, barter, and exchange" and in so doing make everyone trading better off. I reject utterly the Hobbesian belief that left to ourselves we will degenerate to a war of everyone against everyone and lives that are solitary, nasty, brutish, and short. And I don't believe trade is naturally about "winning and losing" -- I believe it is naturally about each trading partner improving their lot in life.

I tell my students, frequently, that I am not a free market anarchist because I believe in greed, but because I believe that, somehow, free markets lead to a better society and a better world. Not the best world -- to reach that, I tell them, I believe we can only get after this one because of Jesus' help on the cross. But a better one than we can get any other way.

4.

To me, "forced cooperation" is an oxymoron. It's merely coercion by one and submission to that coercion by the other. True cooperation is about acting together; coercion is merely getting one's way through the use of power.

You are absolutely correct, in my opinion anyway, that the next order skills require a mindset of cooperation. But I believe true cooperation comes through persuasion and self-interest. It isn't a "public policy objective" that one can achieve by getting the right rules or the right people in power. It is something that comes only when each of the cooperating parties believes cooperation is worth it to him/her.

5.

In the end, though, its all about where one's faith lies. My faith with worldly matters lies in markets and the free pursuit of self-interest. It does not lie in the state and the acquisition, maintenance, or projection of power. That's my book-in-progress on the future of higher education is currently titled, "Barriers of Faith": the future isn't going to be determined by the rules for teachers, and it isn't going to be determined by state action. It's going to be determined by the learning decisions of individual students. And before we can set up the correct educational institutions for those learning decisions, we need to confront the articles of our misplaced educational faith.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
Offline MontanaBob  
#29 Posted : Friday, January 3, 2014 10:31:47 AM(UTC)
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I'm confused here reading about all this "class work, earning grades, extra time in labs, etc." You mean to tell me I was supposed to go to classes when I was in college? I thought it was all about punting a football once in awhile for a lousy team and long jumping and triple jumping a few times in a track meet.

Man, had I known I was supposed to go to classes to, I'd have been on the first bus back to Milwaukee.

BTW....the last grade I gave out when I retired was a "D".....in PE.....to a 5th grader. He got a D because I liked him. He actually earned an F, but he could breath and write at the same time so I gave him credit for that.
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DakotaT on 1/3/2014(UTC), Wade on 1/3/2014(UTC)
Offline texaspackerbacker  
#30 Posted : Friday, January 3, 2014 6:58:32 PM(UTC)
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Wade, it sounds like you are in effect saying, "you gotta get along to go along". I have to grudgingly admit, that's probably true. The damn law says you have to wear seat belts; A person hates seat belts, but uses them because he is FORCED to cooperate - or he gets beat down by oppressive government. Substitute a dozen or a hundred other behaviors if you don't buy the badness of seat belts. The point is, it happens - there is a huge majority who comply, NOT because they have been persuaded the intrusive regulations are good, but because of the negative consequences if they don't comply. Would you accept the premise that COOPERATING and COMPLYING are essentially the same thing? Some "eat that sh*t up" - comply enthusiastically; Some don't cooperate/comply at all - those of us who are anti-statist in deed rather than merely in word; Many/probably most go through the motions but are not enthusiastic about it. I assume THAT is what you had in mind when you said everybody behaves out of self-interest, albeit not always selfishness - I would add, not even out of agreement with the merits of the behavior.

So if compliance IS cooperation, and if negative consequence IS force, then there is nothing oxymoronic about it, there is a helluva lot of forced cooperation, and it's on the increase. And while YOU may be careful to draw a distinction between persuasion and indoctrination, there are a helluva a lot of people - leftists/elitists/whatever the hell you would call Dakota - that are so damn sure the sh*t they spew don't stink, that they don't even recognize what they do as indoctrination - it's merely teaching us poor dumb yokels in flyover country to be "correct" - politically correct or whatever. And you know what the sickest part of that scenario is? They are having a lot of success. Just read the words of some of the other posters in here; Just read some polls; Just observe the sh*tstorm that occurs when some good normal person has the gall to challenge the mantra of CHANGE which those assholic types are pushing. That fine line between indoctrination and persuasion - or at least the perception thereof, is more a matter of what is being spewed and who is spewing it.

In other words, I suspect the hoops you need to jump through/the taboos you need to avoid/etc. are extremely much stricter for you than, for example, some God damned anti-American leftist.

What you are forced to identify as your "claims", those anti-American/leftist a$holes routinely get away with portraying as "truths".

But rotten as all that is, the more things CHANGE, the more things stay the same in terms of the attitudes and gut feelings of good people - on most of the important issues, anyway. We just need to recognize the "self-interest" of sometimes being careful what not to say and where not to say it hahahahaha.
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