Critical Thinking–NOT

I hate how old-fashioned this makes me sound, but I believe higher education is NOT just preparation for a career.  Career-training has its place, but college can fill in the gaps toward a well-rounded individual.  Dorm living helps prepare for life outside the comfy confines of home. Required classes that seem totally irrelevant to one’s major can provide some interesting knowledge and information.  For example, I learned from a professor in a basic Chemistry class that it is possible to increase the odds of producing a boy child (or girl if you prefer) using a little preparation.  Fertile Myrtle here never got the chance to use that system, however, but I was pretty damn sure another boy was on the way even before I had the sonogram.  Little tidbits gleaned here and there also helped me to not make a total fool of myself on Jeopardy–but I should have played more video games with my kids to master that darn buzzer!  One of my most informative classes was a Political Science class I had very little interest in at the time.  But the professor was an astute man that helped me see and believe that we are bombarded with information that almost always is slanted a certain way.  It is up to us to try to see all sides of an issue and form the most clear understanding of it by peeling away others’ hidden agendas.  This may not be important to an accountant on the job, but it is relevant to a person in this world who just may earn a paycheck crunching numbers.

One of my sons is taking some required humanities classes at the local branch campus of the University of Pittsburgh.  My boys are all science majors and are not quite so enamored with the subjective subject matter of the social sciences, and I agree that without the right person teaching these classes, they can be opinionated busy-work courses.  One would expect that a distinguished and not-so-inexpensive college like Pitt would be able to find highly qualified professional people to teach these courses in a meaningful way (even at a branch campus).  But every week, I am becoming more inflamed over how our tuition dollars are being spent!

First of all, the teacher:  Almost every week, one of J’s teachers is at least 15 minutes late for class.  One week she arrived 45 minutes late.  Most of the students don’t bother waiting around after 15 minutes, but J has another class afterward so there is no point in him leaving.  The secretary just keeps popping in every 15 minutes to say the teacher is on her way until she finally makes her grand entrance.  Highly disrespectful and irresponsible, in my opinion!

Not only is she notoriously late for class, she has a PhD yet asked the class if  “as of now” was one word or three! WTF!!  She’s teaching COLLEGE!!  I know I’m a little priggish about spelling sometimes because I used to read a lot and it came easy for me, and I’m aware of some very bright people that are challenged by spelling rules, but if you’re teaching college or are an English major or journalist, you should be literate!!  Does she seem smarter than a fifth grader??  I think not!

The text book:  I can’t even believe it is a text book.  It is the most biased, left-slanted piece of garbage I have ever laid eyes upon.  By the way, I would be almost as incensed if the book (titled “Critical Thinking” by Brooke Noel Moore and Richard Parker) was this one-sided yet totally aligned with my own viewpoints.  It is just opinionated drivel and in no way teaches or exemplifies “critical thinking.”  It is laden with factual errors that J has in fact pointed out in class.  At every opportunity, it slams the GOP, Fox News, the NRA, and the war on terrorism but treats the authors’ opinions on these subjects as facts rather than opinions.  It is clearly an opportunistic attempt to brainwash young minds that may have not had a chance to form their own opinions on these things.  And this is not even a political science class!!  It is supposed to be teaching “logic,” one of those murky subjects that academia loves.

By the way, I asked J about a week ago if he would mind if I blogged about this awful textbook and unprofessional teacher.  I in no way want to jeopardize his grade or cause him any trouble in case this teacher somehow stumbles upon this rant.  He was fine with it.  As I was thinking about what I wanted to write, he texted me that she was already 15 minutes late for class again tonight.  Then, of all things, she called him up after class and asked why he looked so bored and didn’t participate.  He was so floored, because half the kids in the class were sitting there with their eyes half-closed, without their book, and unlike J, never offered an answer or opinion.  J has been to every class, hadn’t dozed off and was following along with his text book in front of him.  Despite the idiocy of the subject matter, he has scored well on every quiz.  Where did this clueless question spring from?

It makes just about as much sense as the next tuition hike.

11 Responses to “Critical Thinking–NOT”

  1. 1 Consuella Banana Hammock February 22, 2011 at 8:54 am

    oh gosh. now i’m panicked that i’m going to spend a bajillion dollars on my college for my boys and they are going to get screwed. what? i can’t even believe that! fire her ass. seriously. in this economy, with educators out of work, i think we could surely find someone better, someone with a little fire in their bones.

    thanks for your rant on this. i have been just as pissed off about some of the stuff going on at my boy’s level too. more layoffs. not enough money. and we wonder why we can’t get good teachers. let’s pay them well and fire them if they don’t perform.


    • 2 les@mamaneeds2rant February 22, 2011 at 9:22 am

      I know Consuella. This crap goes on at all levels. They don’t pay enough for any of the professions dealing with our most precious resource–our children. I’m appalled at how hard these foster care caseworkers have to work and how little they get paid with the educational degrees they have. It’s the same with our preschool teachers and daycare. Yet our children’s lives and future depends on them to a great extent.

  2. 3 Cyndi February 22, 2011 at 9:03 am

    Wow, that is awful. She does sound like an illiterate moron (I’m with you on the whole grammar-stickler-thing). Being late is unacceptable and a waste of the students’ precious time and money. It is difficult to find good teachers because it is incredibly difficult to get rid of bad ones who have not lost their jobs due to tenure or their friendships with the decision makers. I tried complaining about one of my profs last year and hit a brick wall every time. I hope he told her he was disinterested because he’s following her lead.

    • 4 les@mamaneeds2rant February 22, 2011 at 9:32 am

      I am so with you on the tenure thing. Pay good teachers what they’re worth and don’t set up such roadblocks when one needs to go. We had one elementary teacher that was reported so many times for behavior bordering on abuse and the best they could do was move her around between schools. Parents pleaded not to put their kids in her class! Any other profession, and your butt would be out the door for such unacceptable performance.

  3. 5 Dawn February 22, 2011 at 11:14 am

    My favorite teacher looks like Tom Hanks. It’s the first class I’ve had that I felt was worth the while for the price of the books.

    I’ve been thinking something is seriously wrong with my picture and then you go and validate it.

    Ooooooh mercy!

    • 6 les@mamaneeds2rant February 22, 2011 at 12:21 pm

      Tom Hanks, huh? Reminds me of my high school days when I was more interested in staring at my cute young male teachers than talking to the boys my age. I went to Catholic school and they could only afford nuns and sweet young things right out of college. A couple of those young teachers were horrible, but I also had a few that were totally dedicated to teaching and were amazing!!

  4. 7 walksalone February 22, 2011 at 11:27 am

    I lost all hope for the schools a) when my 6th grade daughter thought Alaska was an island many years ago. The maps had it in a separate box and the teacher, in teaching about the state, never bothered to tell them it was attached to the continent; and b) when I attended community college during my 40″s and saw first hand how tuition is wasted on lack luster professors.

    Thanks for a great post. I agree with you 100%.

    • 8 les@mamaneeds2rant February 22, 2011 at 12:36 pm

      Thanks for your comment walksalone! Did you ever watch Jay Leno when they have real people (often college students) try to answer trivia questions that a 10-year-old should know? The answers they give are so stupid I thought it had to be a joke. Sadly, though, I’m convinced that people are really that clueless. And we pay a fortune for this “education!”

  5. 9 robinaltman March 3, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Aaaargh! Les, that is insane! Insane and unacceptable. She shouldn’t be one minute late, let alone 15 or, gasp, 45. What an irresponsible nit wit. You had me at “15 minutes late”, but “as of now”? You’re kidding, right? When this class is over, you’ve got to write to the head of the department. Give your opinion on the textbook, too. Please.

    There’s a 5k coming up at the end of March in Harrisburg. I know it’s tax season, though. What do you think? You up for it? I’ll understand if you don’t have the time. *sniff*

    • 10 les@mamaneeds2rant March 3, 2011 at 11:53 pm

      She needs to be reported, Robin. We looked up comments on “rate my professor” from the last school she was at and my blog was tame compared to what those peeps thought. I believe she’s already been reprimanded once here, too. Dummy J got warned about her but of course his weight-lifting schedule was more important than getting a sane professor at a different time of day!!

      Did my kids put you up to that 5K? Cuz they’re always trying to get me off my dead ass. Harrisburg would actually be a cool place to meet up with you–but end of March is deadly. End of April would have been much more doable!

  6. 11 robinaltman March 7, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    OK. I admit it. Your kids called me…

    I’ll look for stuff in the middle of us for end of April. You’re right about March. There are a bunch of St. Patty’s Day races around here, but I look outside and think, “Uh,…no.”

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