Cainntear wrote:I'd say the biggest problem for universities in recent decades is that industry and government have been pushing them constantly away from teaching people how to think to teaching people how to do -- this idea that a university has failed if a graduate can't immediately do a productive day in an office from day one. They don't want education, they want training, and why should we be taking corporate training courses at our own expense or at the expense of the public purse?
Then there's all the subjects that used to get taught at FE colleges that now have so-called "vocational degrees" -- 100% how to do.
I was supposed to graduate university in 2019 if everything went right, but from a young age I'd been debating what sort of career to go into. University education and career goals were completely married in my first year of high school, when I really started thinking about it. Luckily, more people had started posting on the Internet about how to get by without a degree or with having different types of degrees, so I didn't feel as bad for being lost.
However, there was just one problem: I didn't know what to choose, because my high school education wasn't adequately preparing me for the rigor of college, despite most of my classes being Advanced Placement (AP) or Honors. I felt an idiot.
I knew I wanted a PhD and I knew I wanted to be a proper thinker, but I didn't think my mind moved fast enough for 4 years of writing papers to make a difference. So the watering down and career-factory mindset of my local college seemed appropriate. But I always felt there was something more out there, you know?
At a nearby community college, they had seemingly more practical degrees, like audio-visual production, HVAC systems, nursing, phlebotomy, etc. I had a good idea of what I wanted to do but not how to apply it.
At the time, and even now, I wanted to be careful with my money. But none of the options seemed good. They all seemed dead.
I don't know if the 4-year model works as efficiently as it used to. As we've said, college used to make us thinkers and well-rounded citizens, but there's a need for people to show results and affect the tangible world around them now, more than ever before, as opposed to just philosophizing. A shame in some respects, but true. "Thinking" is valued in the context of what sort of profit it can rake in, not what kind of mental rigor it can create, define, or renew. And that's reflected in the changing structure of the curricula in a wide range of fields, as well as the popping up of self-learning models (i.e. Khan Academy) and group cohort models like MOOCs. People want skills now. They need them now. And as always, many are blocked by a price tag. But with more being found out about learning and how people process information, and data moving rapidly across the Web, Internet- or app-based platforms can adapt quickly to market new products according to research even if they take studies out of context and don't actually increase knowledge retention.
Can we get the traditional 4-year degree to hold hands with practicality to meet what society is demanding from colleges now? Should we try that? Or what is the best option?
I still haven't found the best place for me and I've been mulling over it for almost 10 years. It seems in the open field of the Internet, education is evolving more rapidly than in brick-and-mortar schools, ones which have dominated that field as hunters for years. Now they're the prey. Those real-life schools, even if they have online options, often have outdated course models. Trust me, I've tried quite a few.
But yet I still can't decide which is better, and which would ultimately advance my career for all the nitpick. Having people to actually connect with is always good, and even before COVID-19 I was taking online classes; and even before COVID-19, I longed for human connection and the natural, academic competition that comes from being in a classroom. Online learning can't provide the true "cohort feel" even if it's organized in such a manner, in my opinion. But maybe I'm just too noisy an extrovert.
But online learning is more open and malleable.
Since it seems that in the not so distant future, school buildings could be a thing of the past, I suppose we'll have to accept e-learning as all-comprehensive and all-good, but I just can't help thinking that there must be a middle ground that doesn't require people to choose strictly thinking over doing, since humans are creatures of both.
For all us (still, as of this moment) youngins, I wish someone would come up with a learning model that didn't force us to choose to be either academic or blue collar, but rather have us all working toward the shared goal of obtaining knowledge and getting it. And for God's sake, being able to pick a major and not switch three times! (And end up with buyer's remorse after graduating with a degree in psychology, when we really wanted to be an entrepreneur... and we are indeed buying.)