Close your eyes and imagine the typical classroom. Chances are that you imagined a middle-aged man, standing at a lectern, droning on about f/p/s electron orbitals or the civil war’s status quo antebellum socio-economic effect on the primarily agrarian communities of the southern United States.
Drone Professor Droning on about Drones
It is no surprise then that the neo-liberal educational model that has been around for quite some time has lost it’s effect as of late, and has been subject to several experiments on its improvement. Some of these experiments we read about in past weeks, some we read about this week, and some I have experienced and participated in as a part of my tenure as a perpetual student.
Khaled Adjerid PhD graduation, circa 2045
Jean Lacoste conducted one of his own experiments with his classroom of, from what I can surmise, can only be 100’s of students, by individualizing the content, making all of it available and allowing the students to pick and choose both how they consume the information and how they assess themselves. Unsurprisingly, the students all did well, had many fewer questions for him, and everyone was happy.
“I want each student to feel important…I want to reach every single student in the class….I decided to individualize the entire course…I developed numerous formative assessments so students could accurately evaluate their progress throughout the semester…Even my heavy email load was improved as nuisance policy/special consideration requests were replaced by thoughtful questions about course content. I haven’t had this much fun since I left the small classroom.”
How is this even a real thing? First off, this solution doesn’t work for 2 reasons. The first is that it requires the instructor to develop a wider array of content that the students are free to pick and choose from. The instructor spends time developing in class, online, digital, video, handouts, etc. content that the students then get to pick from at their leisure for a more personalized experience, as if it were a Starbucks menu.
“I’ll have the grande online lecture with a venti homework and a skim final exam please”
Secondly, it doesn’t solve the problem that the author outlines in the introduction where he says that he doesn’t feel that he can connect personally with the students and the students don’t feel the professor can give enough feedback to each student or learn their names. This can only be solved by getting to know each student, spending time with their assessments, meeting them in office hours, and having quality interactions with them. This is piled on top of all of the other duties they may have, thus promptly killing the professor.
“RIP in Peace Professor Lacoste, at least you knew our names”
I don’t want to be a negative Narendra, so I do want to point out that there are some of his methods that do contribute to a positive learning environment and a more personalized education. This does tend to give a sense of ownership to the learning and the material which can be a positive outcome, I just don’t feel that the entire learning, lesson plan, and assessment should be left to the students.
On a final note, there was a statement from the Carnes reading that stood out to me and I wanted to make a note of:
“No one can say that the future president of the Harvard Law Review (and of these United States) was not college material.”
– Mark C. Carnes
I disagree. The famous quote from Einstein that says about judging a fish’s worth by assessing it’s ability to fly always comes to mind. Not everyone is ‘cut out’ for every field and should be assessed by the same measure nor should they all be required to attend colleges. I have seen many engineering students who WERE NOT ENGINEERING MATERIAL. They tried at it many times, eventually, they found their home in AgSci, Business, or Psych; something ‘easier’ they admitted to me, to which I correct, “not easier, but more suited to their style of thinking and skill set”.
Others perhaps are not suited for college at all, rather for trade schools or apprenticeships, which were common and led to well paying careers up until the 70’s and 80’s before colleges became profit centers, not learning centers. These professions are now derided and looked down upon as being for the uneducated lower class, despite the fact that one who is successful in these trades can make well into the six figures, especially with an entrepreneurial mindset.
A plumber is one job they can’t outsource to China