It's Antarctica Month!
Gary Moore: Still Got the Blues

Not Surprising

Anyone who's been anywhere near higher ed in recent years knows that standards are declining, in general, though I think (think) that the good and conscientious students and teachers are still doing good work on each side of the relationship. Here is an interesting report confirming what is pretty apparent. 

The problem is complex but one important aspect is the expectation that most everybody should go to college, and that a college degree is the ticket to a good job. Neither of those is true, and one effect of the pretense that they are is a general reduction in seriousness and a devaluation of the credential, so that a BA is fast becoming what a high school diploma used to be.

I saw this coming thirty-five years ago when I spent a miserable few weeks trying to teach remedial writing to college freshmen. I found myself introducing concepts such as "sentence" and "paragraph" to people who were taking college classes.  I don't know how many of them graduated with little improvement in their writing skills. 


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The worst instance of this was, for me, twenty years ago. I had met a very pretty young woman, who was a graduate philosophy student at Smith (!). She submitted an essay to Caelum et Terra, and it was sub-literate, with incomplete sentences, disjointed thoughts, and many grammatical errors. And this is an Ivy League school, not some community college.
I was stunned. But then, as I said, she was very pretty; perhaps that had carried her that far?

I read essays submitted by candidates for doctoral degrees all the time, and it's rare to find one that isn't full of errors like that. Most of these folks are very pretty, either. ;-)


I'm not at all surprised. I had a similar experience (to Daniel's) in the late '70s when I met someone who had graduated from one of the elite NE women's schools like Smith...Sarah Lawrence, maybe. I was expecting to be awed by her erudition but instead I found that she had been allowed to focus almost exclusively on a then-fashionable area of study (Virginia Woolf and knew little else. She was different from these others in that she had no lack of basic skills, but I wouldn't have called her well-educated.

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