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.