Who Will Have the Best Higher Ed in XXI Century?

World’s higher education is changing:

By the end of this decade, four out of every 10 of the world’s young graduates are going to come from just two countries – China and India.

The projection from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows a far-reaching shift in the balance of graduate numbers, with the rising Asian economies accelerating ahead of the United States and western Europe. The forecasts for the shape of the “global talent pool” in 2020 show China as rapidly expanding its graduate numbers – set to account for 29% of the world’s graduates aged between 25 and 34.

The biggest faller is going to be the United States – down to 11% – and for the first time pushed into third place, behind India.

I don’t believe in China’s higher education. I think it’s as much of a bubble as the Soviet education was and for the same reason. The Indian education, however, is hugely promising. All of my very best students at every university where I taught were from India. I don’t want to be stereotyping but I’m yet to meet a student from India who is not bizarrely good.

I hope our country realizes how important it is to invest in our own system of higher ed in the face of such impressive competition. Unless we want to turn into an intellectually insignificant backwards place that is completely dependent on others for ideas, research and technology, we need to stop looking at our universities as places that need to be squeezed for money and profits. We need to stop adjunctifying, scrimping, and cutting down on vitally important research needs.


“Lots of Spanish Spoken”

I keep obsessively reading the reviews of the resort where I will be going the day after tomorrow (because I can’t enjoy the trip until I have tortured myself with every nightmarish scenario possible, of course.) Almost every single review mentions that people in the Dominican Republic speak Spanish and their English is far from perfect. The sense of outrage these tourists experience when they realize that not everybody in the world is an English-speaker is bizarre, to put it mildly.

Yet some universities refuse to introduce the language requirement or to raise it from one year to two. I maintain that any university that allows students to graduate without speaking a second language scams its graduates. A monolingual person with a scholarly degree is a joke.

Should Men Let Women Wear the Shoes They Like?

Even the supposedly progressive sources can’t avoid using hugely offensive language when discussing women. The “What About Teh Menz” blog started out kind of fine, but it has adopted the language of disrespect for women that makes me cringe. Here, for example, the kind of dating advice that its author dispenses to short men:

Let your girlfriend wear high heels if she wants to.

In this blogger’s confused sad excuse for a brain, adult women need their boyfriend’s permission to wear the shoes they like.

I’m sure that many of that blog’s followers are wondering why their personal lives are miserable. The answer is, of course, that as long as they see this kind of rhetoric as acceptable, their loneliness will only intensify. Nobody needs a man who thinks he will be “letting” his girlfriend do things. Even the most downtrodden, mousy females have realized by this time that they don’t need their boyfriends’ permission to dress the way they want to. There can be any number of boyfriends in a woman’s life. But none of them can matter more than her dignity.

Unfortunately, Google Reader doesn’t allow me to bump blogs off my reading list, so I’m doomed to reading the idiocies of this stupid blog in my blogroll.

Translation Riddle

OK, time for another riddle, people.

Everybody knows that machine translation systems are useless when translating fiction. However, there was one scene in the novel I’m translating that I knew would be translated perfectly by Google Reader. I tried it and it turned out I was absolutely right. The translation of the scene required almost no retouching after it came out of Google Translator.

Question: what kind of a scene was it and why did Google Translator translate it so perfectly?

Are the Sciences Doomed in Canada?

Canada always had very good policies of governmental support for research. However, the assault on learning, knowledge, and research in Canada continues.

Here is what a Canadian scientist has to say about this:

Today, scientists in this country got out and did what has needed to be done for years now: hundreds of them, clad in white lab coats, ventured to Parliament Hill in Ottawa to protest the Harper Regime’s policies on scientific issues–policies which, in sum total, amount to nothing short of an ongoing, insane crusade against the very idea of objectively verifiable facts.

I feel very sad about what is going on in Canada. What a shame!

What was it that possessed the Canadians to vote for Harper? The guy is so dumb that his head must be completely hollow.

From Freshmen to Seniors

I will be coordinating the research projects of our graduating Seniors next year (for the first time ever! Yes, yes, yes!) and the students have started writing in already because they want to start working on their projects as soon as possible.

It always fascinates me to observe how our students change in the four (or five, or sometimes six) years they spend getting a university education. They come in as listless, indifferent, ignorant Freshmen who have no knowledge about the world and no interest in learning about it. Politics bores them, literature terrifies them, traveling does not excite them.

By the time they are ready to leave, our students become curious, engaged, intelligent people who have traveled, who have learned to speak a foreign language, who have opinions, who care about politics, and who maybe even like to read. This is especially obvious during the Senior Assignment presentations. You look at a student and think, “Gosh, I remember her when she couldn’t say a word of Spanish and just sat there looking all petulant in class. And now she is sharing the results of her analysis of a novel (a film, a work of philosophy, a social issue, etc.)  in beautifully fluent Spanish!”

What we do for our students is hugely important. We give them the tools they need to start caring about the world and engaging with it. It feels like we put a battery in them. Where there used to be indifference and listlessness, we create excitement and enthusiasm. This is an extremely rewarding job, people.