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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Mystery Solved

I have finally understood why so many students come to college without knowing the names of the continents and not having the vaguest idea of what the Cold War was, when WWII happened, who Jews are, or what language is spoken in Australia.

Students in high school take such courses as, and I quote, “Culinary Arts, Child Development, Social Justice, Health, and Accounting.”

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16 thoughts on “Mystery Solved

  1. I just assume my students know absolutely nothing. Tomorrow I cover among other things the Holodomor for my Civ 102 classes. We have one week to cover International Communism. That is the week after the one week we have to cover both World War I and World War II.

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  2. Shakti on said:

    Simpler: There’s no such thing as history classes, geography, or civics instruction anymore.

    How many students are local to the area or come from small towns?

    Students in high school take such courses as, and I quote, “Culinary Arts, Child Development, Social Justice, Health, and Accounting.”
    Home-Ec (Turn on the stove. Turn off the stove when you’re done. Fire makes food taste better!) , Health, Child Development (take a shower and don’t drop your flour baby on their head, abstinence education ), Social Justice (?), Accounting (I’m pre-pre-business!).

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  3. Nothing like a well-rounded comprehensive education to enlighten the youth of today and make them world-wise.

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  4. Demotrash on said:

    We had classes like that at my high school, but they were just electives we could take in addition to our required English, science, math, and history classes. I expect the same is true of your students. I do have to say I learned very little in my history/government classes and this was supposedly a decent school. And when we took a citizenship test when we were in 12th grade only one person passed, which is pretty sad.

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  5. Unfortunately, I think few high school students and college students are really learning anything these days. I don’t even think it matters much if high school students are taking traditional courses like literature/English, history, politics, math, etc. Too much of education these days, at both the secondary and higher ed level, is reduced to the following: instructors teach to the test, students memorize the bare minimum from the study guide/PowerPoint slides, they do the extra credit (but not the reading), teachers inflate grades and pass the students along, etc., in a cycle that repeats every few weeks for a total of four years. And I’m way too complicit in some of this crap than I’d really like to admit. And students graduate but still can’t read carefully or think for themselves. Maybe this is why people believe fake news (e.g., the Hillary campaign & Pizzagate) and crazy ideologues on YouTube.

    In my ideal world, we’d significantly reduce class size, get rid of grades and student course evaluations, and do away with the types of assessment mandated by accrediting bodies and the state. (There is no bigger joke than “assessment.) But doing this would cost way too much money, and we need to save all of that money to fund our wars and invade other countries.

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    • Getting rid of grades means immediately losing the interest of students like me. And students like me are really the only ones who will do anything with the education. So what’s the benefit?

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  6. Alex the Physicist on said:

    Today, while critiquing drafts of lab reports, I lamented that people have no concept of which preposition is appropriate in which situation. (If I recall correctly, the student in question wrote something like “Our data is graphed at Figure 2” instead of “Our data is graphed in Figure 2.”) A student said “I’m not sure what a preposition is. I don’t think my teachers talked about them much.”

    If he is telling the truth then he should file a lawsuit against his school district.

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  7. Grades were always a great incentive to me as a student. But grades too often seem to invite very distasteful disagreement between students and professors. For example, why did you take off four points for this answer instead of just one point? Or another example: the only thing missing from my paper is a thesis–so why did you give me a “C”? I can answer these questions and justify my answers, but sometimes students will really not understand my justifications. I’d much rather say to a student that their test or paper is really crappy and here’s why and here’s how you can improve than get into an argument over a few points here and there or over a letter grade. These are the types of situations I don’t like dealing with as a professor.

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  8. Dreidel on said:

    I don’t know what high school is like today, but when I attended high school in the early 1960s, the local school had two class tracks: one for students who were planning to go on to college (which was actually less than half the students back then), and another for students whose formal education was going to stop with the 12th grade.

    Girls who were going to marry right out of school and become house wives or waitresses took the “Home Economics” classes that Shakti laughs at above (and those classes were more useful to them than “Basic Physics” would have been), and the non-college-bound boys took “Shop and Mechanics” (or something like that).

    If you were going to college, the school automatically routed you into the mathematics and “High English” classes that you’d need to get accepted into a university.

    “American History” was required for everybody, and that class was taught by the football coach, who was required by state law to teach one classroom subject.

    It actually worked out fairly well.

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    • These days nobody can say how much education they will need in 10 years and what they will be doing in life. Nobody can plan out their life so far in advance. And this is both bad and fantastic.

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  9. In the UK it seems there’s no Geography taught any more. The BBC news has just reported on Zimbabwe and Yemen, so how many British young people could point to roughly where these states are on a map? I would guess very few. I’d hazard another guess that it’s even worse in the US.
    If you have no concept of the shape of the world and the placement of people in it, how can you possibly understand anything of more than very local significance?

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