A Stick in the Eye of Higher Ed

If you haven’t read this, give it a shot and tell me what you think:

Ivy League Schools Are Overrated. Send Your Kids Elsewhere. | New Republic.

I really love how Deresiewicz takes aim at a few unchallenged assumptions of our 21st century American higher ed system:

  • that admission to elite colleges has everything to do with academic merit
  • that academic achievement is properly measured by SAT scores and GPA scales, and that the only intelligences that matter are the ones measured by classroom testing
  • that the SAT isn’t a tool you can “game” if you have enough money to buy enough tutors and take it enough times
  • that the very structure of our educational system isn’t deeply affected by socioeconomic status, not just hard work and “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” American dreaming
  • that “success” in life should be defined primarily in economic terms (more wealthy = more successful)
  • that education should primarily promote economic mobility

I think colleges sold their proverbial souls in the latter half of the 20th century when they were willing to redefine education as “worker training” in order to get more students.

keep-calm-i-m-college-boundThirty or forty years later, our K-12 system is being ground down by over-assessment and lack of attention to socioeconomic factors that affect student performance, while class distinctions are ever more enshrined.

College is seen as the only way out of poverty, but usually it’s only the kids with social capital and a decent household income who can play the system well enough to get into a quality 4-year college.

The community college and junior college and vo-tech school network has nearly collapsed for lack of funding while ever more students – badly unprepared for the challenge of higher education because K-12 testing squeezes out time for actual instruction – are rushing into classrooms to do the college thing.

Does anybody even do apprenticeships anymore?

Seriously, people.  We need an overhaul.  *puts away soapbox*

Oh yeah, and it’s nice to be home from vacation. If you’re wondering why I went AWOL for a week.