Friday, September 3, 2004

Methods of Higher Education

What as college students are we seeking? Today in my English 102 class, my professor explained to us that in comparison to the European school system, as college freshmen we are at least 6 years behind our European counterparts. At the time we receive a BA or BS degree, we have caught up to where the average European high school graduate is. Why is this?

Our public school systems are lacking. Severely deficient, we are being denied our basic educations as high school, junior high, and elementary students. When we, the few, set out for post-secondary educations, we are unprepared for the rigorous course work. As what I consider to be a successful product of public schooling, I was surprised by these statistics. Surprised, but not shocked. I know there are teachers within the system who fail in meeting the required curriculum. My first two years of high school were inadequate and never was I expected to do anymore than pass, much less excel. My two final years of high school were much more progressive and adequate, but even then I encountered a teacher who showed "Cool Runnings" at least fifteen times. I admire and appreciate those public school teachers who are overworked, underpaid, and yet miraculously are attributed to the success of graduates like me.

Despite our public school background and our high school experiences, we come to college not knowing what we want. From an educational perspective, we lack motivation. We aren't aspiring to reach our greatest potentials, but are merely setting out to attain a degree in a particular field of study. Why are we not here to become educated? I sit through a higher division history class twice a week frustrated with how little I've learned about European history in my life. I read book after book hoping to one day understand the Kennedy assassination. I'm enthralled with CSPAN daily. Yet I am not satisfied with how much I collectively "know."

I'm not your typical nineteen year old, but shouldn't we all seek for more than what we have. As students in institutions of higher learning our number one objective should be to obtain knowledge. To become an educated individual who will better society. Why are we here if not for that purpose? If you are sitting in a college classroom today and don't know for what reason, it is about time you start questioning. And just because you are here to get a degree or a certificate and know exactly how you'll go about it, that doesn't mean you are reaching your full potential and gaining the highest education you possibly can.

Thanks to Kay Walter I've learned this today, I've been inspired to seek for my true potential, and hope all of my college counterparts will give it at least a moment of consideration.


Anonymous said...

Tara this post is very true, and I agree with every bit of it. As I think about my high school education, I now realize that students were not taught as much as they need to know, and are very unprepaired for college classes. I also was fortunate enough to have one of those teachers who showed "Cool Runnings" or "Remember the Titans" every other class period. The education system does need to be fixed, for lack of a better word. I do not however, think this means high stakes standardized testing. I won't even get into that right now. I am sad to say, though that I am one of those college kids who does not have the slightest idea why they are here. Maybe I should move to Jamaica and join a bobsled team, one of my teachers taught me a lot about that.

Nick Speth said...

I think schools need to be strengthened too. Yet the traditional solution of throwing more money at them doesn't seem to be working. I agree that in some cases the schools are underfunded, but I think there's a better solution.

The fact is, the teachers you mentioned needed to be out of jobs. We have to hold our teachers to some kind of standard, and the NEA and other teacher's organizations are an obstacle.

Unions have one job, to get the most money and the easiest work for their membership, and the NEA has been one of the most successful, unfortunately at the cost of our students' education.

Teresa said...

Sure, there were those teachers in Jr. High and High School who didn't care enough about what they were teaching to get their students to think and learn. However, at least in my experience, they were very outnumbered by those who did. I wasn't completely prepared for college when I graduated from high school, but I question the idea that the curriculum could be changed enough to make the transition easy. College demands a higher level of maturity and open-mindedness, but people cannot really be trained for it. They must be confronted with it, and then they choose how to respond.
Not knowing exactly what you want when you set out to get a college education is not necessarily a bad thing. College life opens your mind to new ideas that you might not have considered before - perhaps something that suits you perfectly. And, in the meantime, you can make the most of the experience and take a variety of courses that will make you a well-rounded individual - all the better equipped to improve society.