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irishjayhawk
03-08-2008, 06:27 PM
The home-school thread got me thinking. Well, actually it reengergized some questions I've come up with throughout my time in the University system (being the first public system I've been in).

1) What is the University system's purpose?

I ask this first question because the way I see it, much like Sir Ken Robinson (http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/66), is that the purpose of the University system - and that of ANY education system, public or private, has a sole purpose: to cultivate future professors/teachers. I would venture an initial guess that most people will say the purpose of the University (and/or all education systems) is to ready one for the work force.

2) Is the system effective at the purpose?

I ask this question because it's an obvious follow up to #1. With my perceived "purpose" of the education system, I would say that it is moderately efficient. The reason I say this is because most people don't go into education after college. Reason being: pay. Teachers get paid shit; we all know this.

To address the contention, or my guess, that the purpose is to prepare someone for the work force, I would say that the system's effectiveness is less than 50% - and probably closer to 20%. Reason? To put it simply, the education system teaches all theory and the work force is predominantly practical. There are some exceptions as Science comes to mind (medicine, pharmacy, scientists-in the literal sense). But, on the whole, I think it fails dismally.

Consider my major: Film. Film business is predominently who you know and what your work says of you. It is not "the history of film", "film theory", "film criticism" or things like that. It's practical based; production.

Consider the field of business. On the whole, the university system teaches theory. How many people actually use calculus in their business day-to-day lives? I'd contend not very many. Holding a high school/college job should show you this. You don't have to know very much to move up, but what you must do is network well and be very fast at learning on-the-job things.

Now, consider the way I've put forth. Notice how there's a structure built in. More school, more school, hopefully professor with PH.D. (excluding professional/technical schools). There's an MBA, a JD, etc etc. Why? Isn't the university system supposed to prepare you for the "work force" in approximately 4 years? If so, it's a very antiquated notion.

3) Do you subscribe to the idea of Academic Inflation?

Academic inflation is where 60 years ago a college degree (BA) was good enough to get you into any job with a very good pay grade. However, 20 years ago a BA was no longer that valuable. You must have a masters degree. And now a Masters degree is no longer really that good and now you need a PH.D. Who's to say in years down the road a PHD will be no longer worth what it is today? It seems pretty prevalent.

It can be found on smaller scales as well. Inflating grades, curving tests, etc.

4) Where would you rank the US Education system? Who would you put above or below us? Why?

That's my final question and I really don't know myself. But I do know that our current system is rubbish.

'Hamas' Jenkins
03-08-2008, 06:52 PM
1) To act as a place for research (for the current professionals) and training for the future professionals, and to make money.
2) It's not as effective as an apprenticeship program would be, but it is the most effective system for a nation of this size.
3) Yes
4) The US Higher education system is the best in the world, bar none. I don't really know of many outside of Britain or France that would even compare. Look at the sheer number of immigrants who study at the U.S. to attain their degrees and then promptly leave again. They weren't here for the gumbo.

banyon
03-08-2008, 07:32 PM
1) What is the University system's purpose?

I ask this first question because the way I see it, much like Sir Ken Robinson (http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/66), is that the purpose of the University system - and that of ANY education system, public or private, has a sole purpose: to cultivate future professors/teachers. I would venture an initial guess that most people will say the purpose of the University (and/or all education systems) is to ready one for the work force.

In the liberal arts, there's some truth to what you say. Many people who go on to excel in their major (and go to grad school, e.g.) do go into academia.
But many majors are more practical and have employment available that will put those skills to use, like medicine, business, engineering, public planning, etc.

Also many people don't wind up in a field that derives directly from their college major. Many CEO's of Fortune 500 companies had college majors like philosophy or english. I just found out yesterday that Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve wasa classically trained Julliard musician. I used to teach philosophy at the college level, and students often challeged me about what good this class was going to be later in life. People have this preconceived, societally drumbeat-type idea that when we learn something in one area, it can't be used for anything else you can only apply it in that area. But as I used to tell students, using different areas of your brain and improving your reasoning skills, reading comprehension, and writing skills, you can apply that to other areas you may want to go into.

2) Is the system effective at the purpose?

I ask this question because it's an obvious follow up to #1. With my perceived "purpose" of the education system, I would say that it is moderately efficient. The reason I say this is because most people don't go into education after college. Reason being: pay. Teachers get paid shit; we all know this.

To address the contention, or my guess, that the purpose is to prepare someone for the work force, I would say that the system's effectiveness is less than 50% - and probably closer to 20%. Reason? To put it simply, the education system teaches all theory and the work force is predominantly practical. There are some exceptions as Science comes to mind (medicine, pharmacy, scientists-in the literal sense). But, on the whole, I think it fails dismally.

Consider my major: Film. Film business is predominently who you know and what your work says of you. It is not "the history of film", "film theory", "film criticism" or things like that. It's practical based; production.

Consider the field of business. On the whole, the university system teaches theory. How many people actually use calculus in their business day-to-day lives? I'd contend not very many. Holding a high school/college job should show you this. You don't have to know very much to move up, but what you must do is network well and be very fast at learning on-the-job things.

Now, consider the way I've put forth. Notice how there's a structure built in. More school, more school, hopefully professor with PH.D. (excluding professional/technical schools). There's an MBA, a JD, etc etc. Why? Isn't the university system supposed to prepare you for the "work force" in approximately 4 years? If so, it's a very antiquated notion.

You're right that mush has been dumbed-down backwards. Thisis mostly due, though I think to the failure we do on the middle and high school level. People come in woefully underprepared.

3) Do you subscribe to the idea of Academic Inflation?

Academic inflation is where 60 years ago a college degree (BA) was good enough to get you into any job with a very good pay grade. However, 20 years ago a BA was no longer that valuable. You must have a masters degree. And now a Masters degree is no longer really that good and now you need a PH.D. Who's to say in years down the road a PHD will be no longer worth what it is today? It seems pretty prevalent.

It can be found on smaller scales as well. Inflating grades, curving tests, etc.

I think your #2 and #3 questions are related, so I want to agree with this sentiment in part. I think much of this would be eliminated if we moved to some sort of vocational tracking for students starting in early high school like the British do. Many kids are just there to get a piece of paper that says they are qualified to work and aren't really there to learn anything. We should give them that paper, but take it out of the college setting.

4) Where would you rank the US Education system? Who would you put above or below us? Why?

That's my final question and I really don't know myself. But I do know that our current system is rubbish.

The real problems, IMO are in middle and high school. People from all over the world come to our country to utilize our college system. In many cases, this is because it is superior to any that they have in their own country. They often excel because their secondary education was superior in many respects, but they stlll don't have the university system to complete their desired training.

I think for anyone who wants an education, it's still there to be had in our colleges. If you want to be lazy and slack through everything, you can do that too, but it will have been a waste of time and resources for all concerned.

cdcox
03-09-2008, 12:29 AM
1) The purpose of the University was initially to educate. Since WWII, its purpose has been increasingly to prepare individuals for the work place, , as reflected in both curricula and the motivations of those who attend.

2) There is a good correlation between those who succeed academically (graduate from good schools with good grades) and sucess in the work place. By this evidence, it succeeds in preparing people to work in business and the professions.

3) Yes, there is clearly educational inflation both in grades and in the degree's required to succeed. However, the inflation of degree's is accompanied by a deflation in required hours. When I began my accademic career, a BS in my department was over 130 hrs, an MS was 30 to 33 hours past the BS, and a PhD was 48 hours of course work plus disseration past the BS. Soon we will offer an MS for 150 hrs total and a PhD for 162 hours of course work total. On the other hand, with the exponential growth of information, the fraction of total knowledge that is know by a college graduate is continually shrinking. You can't expect an 8th grade education (considered educated at the turn of the last century) to make one competitive in today's world.

4. At the graduate level the US education system is still the best in the World. Foriegners come to the US for advanced degrees by the droves. Much fewer US students go abroad for their education. The gap is closing.

At the undergraduate level there are many fine schools all over the world. The top schools in China and India produces graduates that are easily as good as those from top US institutions. Why? Becuase their raw material is so good. They are drawing a very small percentage of students from a very large population.

Jenson71
03-09-2008, 01:54 AM
1. I love John Henry Newman's purpose of a university:

". . .a university training is the great ordinary means to a great but ordinary end; it aims at raising the intellectual tone of society, at cultivating the public mind, at purifying the national taste, at supplying true principles to popular enthusiasm and fixed aims to popular aspiration, at giving enlargement and sobriety to the ideas of the age, at facilitating the exercise of political power, and refining the intercourse of private life. It is the education which gives a [person] a clear, conscious view of their own opinions and judgements, a truth in developing them, an eloquence in expressing them, and a force in urging them."

2. I think the system works well. At least, from my experiences it does.

There is some problem when students have an idea like "I'll give you my money - now give me information." There's a lot more to it, whether they realize it or not. A good student is always exploring and going outside of the classwork while still excelling in the classwork.

3. Sure, that makes sense to me.

4. I have no idea, to be honest. I would assume it to be one of the top 10-20 best education systems.