What Do Our College Students Learn?

I wrote a three part series (part 1) (part 2) (part 3) on the latest study showing that college students are not learning critical thinking skills. I pointed out that the study was another in a series of little publicized media events. In truth, the public, the colleges and the business world have little desire for critical thinking.

But what do students learn in college?

A faculty member once had a class of students who were not wealthy, not even close. Not all of the students in his class were able to afford textbooks. So, given a choice of textbooks for the next year’s class, he chose one that cost about seventy dollars. The next year, all of his students had the textbook. The very next semester the price of the textbook rose to one hundred and ten dollars. And then two more years slid by and it went up to one hundred and fifty dollars.

This is not an unusual situation with textbook prices. It is, in fact, the common, everyday experience of teachers and students in colleges and universities all over the United States.

Students may not be learning as much critical thinking as some would like, they may not get that much cultural literacy, and they may have only the vaguest concept of the term “civic duty”, but they do know about pricing. I get it in class essays, “You charge as much as you can get.” To them, it is an ethical rule – You must pursue the highest return possible under any circumstance. The students don’t know any other rule. The deeper philosophical concepts of just price and two thousand years of contrary philosophy are not factors here.

I believe I am a good teacher but there is no amount of teaching skill that can equal the cutting edge of another textbook price increase every year. They may not grasp the “statute of frauds” in my business law class but they understand the phrase, “what the market will bear” with perfect clarity.

What are we teaching our students?  Is there any lesson more naked about the nature of the American idea of free enterprise than what students endure each year at the bookstore?

James Pilant

Enhanced by Zemanta

Small Boats Sunset wallpaper – The Attack of The Serious People (via The Long Goodbye)

This is a thorough analysis of the debt ceiling crisis. I enjoyed it. I hope you do too.

James Pilant

Small Boats Sunset wallpaper - The Attack of The Serious People Small Boats Sunset wallpaper   For better or worse the debt ceiling debate has turned into a horse race story. The closer any political event can be framed into a horse race context the better most of the media likes it … Boehner has a plan, talks break down, Reid has a compromise, tea toddler Republicans pull back. So ABC's report of a tentative debt ceiling compromise might mean something for the next few hours and then disappear into th … Read More

via The Long Goodbye

Which face to slap first? (via Static)

We live in a new age.

Often when someone says those words, they are ranting or exaggerating. I am doing neither. For the first time, a citizen with a common appliance, a desktop computer, can read material from every part of the earth. We can watch their videos, read about their politics and communicate with the citizens through writing and commentary. Directly. No governments between us. No media filter.

There will be enormous changes coming from this, but it is going to take a while. It took a long time for television to change the political landscape to what it is today, this will be faster.

Here we have an obviously skilled and intelligent writer from Pakistan discussing the intellectual bankruptcy of the media. His complaints while illustrated by news examples from Pakistan are not different in kind from those in this country.

What we will find talking and listening to people from all over this planet is that we are brothers and sisters. We share many of the same concerns.

And we all have accomplishments to be proud of and problems to be solved.

Read the article. I assure you will find the author’s examples to be fascinating even though they take place on the far side of the globe.

James Pilant

by Rohaan Ahsen The issue I am about to talk about now is a very major issue, in the sense that it has crept into the very essence of an overwhelming majority of our population. Be it an extremely famous (or infamous) personality, or some run-off-the-mill average Joe, hypocrisy is inherent in people from just about every faction in our country. The names I take are those everyone repeats, I will not point fingers on any specific person or group, … Read More

via Static

“War on drugs” is a failure in many ways (via Eideard)

Generally speaking, I do not consider drugs, in this case an illegal activity, a business ethics problem. However the private prison system is a business ethics problem. I have come across on more than one occasion, situations in which the counties and congressional districts in which private prisons exist, have opposed liberalizing the drug laws away from imprisonment and toward other options for fear of losing jobs.

I would like to see a debate over what drug laws are proper that does not in some way spin around local employment at private prisons. That’s not how to make good decisions.

James Pilant

"War on drugs" is a failure in many ways In a step few politicians would take, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle…declared the nation’s decades-old war on drugs a failure… “Rather than invest in detaining people in the Cook County Jail at almost $150 a day . . . we need to invest in treatment, education and job-skills training. That’s the only way . . . we are going to reduce crime and stabilize our communities,” she said… “We all know that the war on drugs has failed to … Read More

via Eideard

“War on drugs” is a failure in many ways (via Eideard)

Generally speaking, I do not consider drugs, in this case an illegal activity, a business ethics problem. However the private prison system is a business ethics problem. I have come across on more than one occasion, situations in which the counties and congressional districts in which private prisons exist, have opposed liberalizing the drug laws away from imprisonment and toward other options for fear of losing jobs.

I would like to see a debate over what drug laws are proper that does not in some way spin around local employment at private prisons. That’s not how to make good decisions.

James Pilant

"War on drugs" is a failure in many ways In a step few politicians would take, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle…declared the nation’s decades-old war on drugs a failure… “Rather than invest in detaining people in the Cook County Jail at almost $150 a day . . . we need to invest in treatment, education and job-skills training. That’s the only way . . . we are going to reduce crime and stabilize our communities,” she said… “We all know that the war on drugs has failed to … Read More

via Eideard

What Do Our College Students Learn?

I wrote a three part series (part 1) (part 2) (part 3) on the latest study showing that college students are not learning critical thinking skills. I pointed out that the study was another in a series of little publicized media events. In truth, the public, the colleges and the business world have little desire for critical thinking.  

But what do students learn in college?

A faculty member once had a class of students who were not wealthy, not even close. Not all of the students in his class were able to afford textbooks. So, given a choice of textbooks for the next year’s class, he chose one that cost about seventy dollars. The next year, all of his students had the textbook. The very next semester the price of the textbook rose to one hundred and ten dollars. And then two more years slid by and it went up to one hundred and fifty dollars.

This is not an unusual situation with textbook prices. It is, in fact, the common, everyday experience of teachers and students in colleges and universities all over the United States.

Students may not be learning as much critical thinking as some would like, they may not get that much cultural literacy, and they may have only the vaguest concept of the term “civic duty”, but they do know about pricing. I get it in class essays, “You charge as much as you can get.” To them, it is an ethical rule – You must pursue the highest return possible under any circumstance. The students don’t know any other rule. The deeper philosophical concepts of just price and two thousand years of contrary philosophy are not factors here.

I believe I am a good teacher but there is no amount of teaching skill that can equal the cutting edge of another textbook price increase every year. They may not grasp the “statute of frauds” in my business law class but they understand the phrase, “what the market will bear” with perfect clarity.

What are we teaching our students?  Is there any lesson more naked about the nature of the American idea of free enterprise than what students endure each year at the bookstore?

James Pilant

Integrity (via Precocious Lotus)

Posts on single word topics like integrity are common and usually terrible reading. This one is good reading. Integrity is little discussed. I tend to write more about hypocrisy and honor, the same kind of turf. But this author chooses integrity and does well with it.

Good read.

James Pilant

Integrity Integrity: “Integrity as a concept has to do with perceived consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcome. People use integrity as a holistic concept, judging the integrity of systems in terms of those systems’ ability to achieve their own goals” ~ Dictionary.com This is a concept that I value highly. Without realising it and naming it I use the worth and personal reflection of this as a measure of a pers … Read More

via Precocious Lotus