Friday, February 20, 2009

In the Basemet of the Ivory Tower

Here's an article a number of you have mentioned in essays or discussion.

Here's a key passage:

America, ever-idealistic, seems wary of the vocational-education track. We are not comfortable limiting anyone’s options. Telling someone that college is not for him seems harsh and classist and British, as though we were sentencing him to a life in the coal mines. I sympathize with this stance; I subscribe to the American ideal. Unfortunately, it is with me and my red pen that that ideal crashes and burns.

Sending everyone under the sun to college is a noble initiative. Academia is all for it, naturally. Industry is all for it; some companies even help with tuition costs. Government is all for it; the truly needy have lots of opportunities for financial aid. The media applauds it—try to imagine someone speaking out against the idea. To oppose such a scheme of inclusion would be positively churlish. But one piece of the puzzle hasn’t been figured into the equation, to use the sort of phrase I encounter in the papers submitted by my English 101 students. The zeitgeist of academic possibility is a great inverted pyramid, and its rather sharp point is poking, uncomfortably, a spot just about midway between my shoulder blades.

For I, who teach these low-level, must-pass, no-multiple-choice-test classes, am the one who ultimately delivers the news to those unfit for college: that they lack the most-basic skills and have no sense of the volume of work required; that they are in some cases barely literate; that they are so bereft of schemata, so dispossessed of contexts in which to place newly acquired knowledge, that every bit of information simply raises more questions. They are not ready for high school, some of them, much less for college.

I am the man who has to lower the hammer.

14 comments:

John Y. said...

EEK! This article is almost as depressing as watching the mortgage meltdown video. I was raised to believe that no matter what I shouldn't give up. And I don't think anybody how lousy they are at English or any other subject should give up on their dreams.

Eric Manzo said...

It is true what this article says some people are not well prepared for college. I do blame it on the school systems but also students are to blame as well. The thing is many students dont get taught to improve on something they are not good at it. Its like when you hear people say they, "I hate math its to hard" its only to hard if you don't try to improve in it. So there is always room for improvement.

scott said...

I believe that any nonsubjective class you take is a true representation of your abalities. math above all else is nonsubjective, and the grade you get in math is always true representation of your abalities, unless you cheat that is.

dianna.l.beaulaurier said...

I like the part about the pyramid, its true only a few make it to the top in "college". I guess its a good thing for colleges to come up with a new way of making money while educating our masses, by expanding on our trade schools.

dianna.l.beaulaurier said...

Not everyone is able to sit in a class all day long then have to go home and start doing homework. The few and determined with Angela Whitiker's passion will make something of themselves by graduating from a college. It is sad to say but we need those lower class workers, someone needs to do my dry cleaning...

dianna.l.beaulaurier said...

Also, with the stories and videos being shown in class helps us to expand our minds and realize that with the rise of education in our society, new jobs will form and everyone will move up slightly, moving lower classes jobs overseas and helping other countries to achieve the America dream. Maybe people will stop flocking to America and realize one day that their country has more to offer them than ours.

Barry W. said...

joohn must have 7000 percent in this class.. i am close behind with my 64 ppercent.. i will catch up soon..

dianna.l.beaulaurier said...

Barry I wonder how many entries we can get before class on Monday. What are you doing for the weekend? lol Any special plans?

Jaime said...

I also think that no one should give up on there schooling just because it is hard or some people lack the skills. You can try to learn the skills and get better. No matter what school is important and can lead to a future full of opportunities.

kayla said...

Hard work and determination. I think that is all a person needs to get through school.

tonya said...

some, maybe even most of our school systems are lacking but even those schools that arent still put out kids in the same situation. you can only give kids the material, its their choice on whether or not they learn it.

Dianna said...

As I stated in another blog entry, not only is it the parent, child, school, but it is also the teachers responsibility to make sure that the child knows the importance of a strong education to survive in a minimum wage world.

Kirsten said...

Whats bad about our schools in Washington state is that if it is not on the WASL, it is not being taught. Teachers dont have time during the day to teach kids how to survive in the workforce, inless its a question on the WASL

Alycia said...

I agree, there is far to much time spent on leanring "basic cognitive skills" in the classroom. I think public schools need to incorporate "people skils" as well. I know there has been attempts made, such as having students perform mock interviews or go on job shadows, but this does not prove to be enough. However, we cannot forget what we go to school for-to gain a basic understanding and knowledge to hopefully further us into a life we can live. The problem is that becuase it is so broad-English/math/science/history/foregin language/art/physical education- its almost that we need a focus...even in highschool.