Reflecting on Education: The Job of Student

This is the first of a few entries which I will devote to discussing my educational experience, and how it has aligned (or not) with my expectations.   

Last Thursday, I attended the first of what is to be a series of lectures at my college on teaching in higher education.  This particular presentation was given by Dr. Mary Huber, and focuses primarily on the ways in which professors interested in improving their quality as educators have sought to accomplish this goal.  She concluded that professors must form a community across and within disciplines, seeking advice from one another and sharing successes and failures, all as part of a larger process of discovering better ways to best serve in their role as educator.  The archaic scholasticism that seems to pervade the higher educational system was downplayed.  At the same time, Dr. Huber suggested that more hands-on activities utilizing modern communications technologies (blogs, wikis, etc.) and demonstrations of theory in practice is a fertile ground since it plays to the skills and expectations of the modern student. 

Noticeably lacking from the presentation was any mention of the role of students in the educational process.  I tried to bring light to this fact during the Q&A session by asking, in so many words, whether there was any room for students in this reform of higher education.  Her response, again in so many words, was “Yes.”  Apparently, my question was simply not blunt enough. 

A fellow student blogger did a fine job some months ago of expressing the frustration some students feel about the lack of interest amongst their classmates, and I have discussed the need for an inclusion of students in the reform process in higher education a long time ago in a comment @ Pedablogy, so I will not restate those ideas here.

I do want to say that ignoring or downplaying the vital importance of students’ desire to learn (or lack thereof) will retard any attempt at reform in higher education; that is to say that I would hypothesize that this desire is a necessary condition for meaningful reform.  To a certain extent, better teaching methods will encourage students who want to learn but have a hard time doing so in the traditional classroom, but Huber’s assumption seems far too optimistic:  All students, on some level, want to learn, and higher educators just have to find ways to connect to those students.  This strikes me as unrealistic.  

To me, an F seems a just reward for failing to show interest in a class.  This may seem harsh, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with feeling like the guy asleep behind me in class is free-riding on my tuition.  He’ll still pass, he’ll still get his 40k/yr job.  Meanwhile, that’s one more person that my professor still has to waste her time on, grading his work, wondering why he isn’t interested, spending time trying to figure out how to engage him.  HE DOESN’T WANT TO BE ENGAGED!!! 

How can my professors better teach me?  By ridding themselves of the distractions personified in other students who don’t give a damn.  With their knowledge, direction, and attention unimpeded by obligations to serve students who could care less, the already high quality of my education would increase to greater heights.  I’m thinking that Dr. Huber and I might be on extreme opposite sides of this debate, and clearly there must be some compromise, but I just want to be sure that students are held accountable for their education, too. 


3 Responses to “Reflecting on Education: The Job of Student”

  1. “Dating” College - Time to Break Up? « Philosonomics Says:

    […] College – Time to Break Up? In this second entry, I want to continue with the theme of reflecting on my education by examining the conflicting influences I feel both to stay at college for another semester…. […]

  2. The Job of Student - A continuation « Philosonomics Says:

    […] Books school.”  I found Mr. Nelson’s talk refreshing, especially in light of my comments about the previous speaker, Dr. Mary Taylor […]

  3. Comment on the First Presentation at Liberales Artes @ UMW Says:

    […] Isaac posted a reaction to our first speaker, Mary Taylor Huber on his blog here. […]

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