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Nonfiction Matters
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Wednesday Reading

Since I posted yesterday, I’ll just give you all some brain candy for today — two pieces I read this morning that you all may find interesting:

Here is a meditation on the question of why we send so many students to college and what they/we/society expect them to get out of it:

And this Op-Ed questions all the supposed improvements in K-12 from NCLB on:

So if we are not preparing middle and high school students, who then go on to college for reasons neither we nor they can define, we are like those scrambling lab rats, running to keep wheels spinning – all frantic activity with no purpose.

What do you think — the Menand piece, in particular, struck a chord for me as it reminded both Marina and me of questions that come up for us teaching in college.


  1. B Herrera says:

    I teach high school. The students come to us unprepared to do basic work. We have to pass them (or explain in multiple forms and in person why WE FAILED THEM) and we have to make sure they pass standardized tests. That leaves little time and less student enthusiasm for real, complex learning. When we send these students on to college (the goal of all students according to our administration and the state legislature) they are even less prepared than they were for high school. I feel bad because I know what is needed for college and I used to be able to teach it. Now I can’t expect students to do homework or to attempt work which they might fail because it would hurt their GPA’s and their egos. Teachers are held in low regard by parents, students, administrators and legislators. How sad that the people who are best trained to solve the problems of education are left out of decision making sessions. I was told by one school board member (when I mentioned that there were thousands of teachers in the district trained to solve finance and education problems who could help find solutions to the budget crises) that he would let us know what they had decided and that the teachers just didn’t understand what should be done. If you educate the people who run businesses, states and countries, why shouldn’t you understand how to best educate a student on the least amount of money? As long as our society places more value on money, GPA’s and awards than it does on a challenging educational system, we will continue to decline in education as a country. The best teachers in the world cannot teach someone who is not willing to learn. Every day I see students excell because of their effort, and I see students with great potential coast to mediocracy because they don’t think it’s important to learn. We do no service to students when we do not let them fail. We also do no service sending students to college when they are not ready or willing. I went to college and have used my degrees constantly. My sister went to college and seldom used her degree. My brother went to vocational college and made more money than both of us and was happy with his degree. My younger sister (and the one with the highest IQ) walked away from college because it did not offer what she wanted. People should go to college because is offers something they want – not something society says they should get.