Are We Losing Sight of the Students?

There are many challenges that face Higher Education right now and many directions that it could go. Many of what is discussed revolves around the financial situation of institutions and the students who are attending. However, through all of these discussions there is one thing that seems to frequently get lost—the students. Sometimes it feels like the lack of focus on students, mentoring and teaching them, means that we are losing sight of the real reason for higher education.

Part of that is how so many people who are working at these institutions of higher education lose sight of teaching. My classmate, stser, linked to an interesting piece on what people who work at many different institutions would change in higher education. The bit written by Daniel Bakos from Western Georgia University rang true to me. He wrote, “Firstly, I believe too many of the faculty at institutions of ‘higher learning’ are not interested in doing their job, which I specifically believe to be in the vast majority of institutions, classroom instruction. It seems they all want to teach one or two classes and earn six figure salaries. Dedication doesn’t exist anymore.”

What Bakos argues can be seen time and time again at many different institutions, including ones that are meant to be teaching and student focused. This could be due to too many time commitments and people start feeling overwhelmed so it is the interactions with students that falls through the cracks. But is that the best system? Are we doing a disservice to the students who come to these institutions to learn and grow? What more could we be doing? We already have teaching vouchers that are considered a great commodity for professors but I have to wonder if they do more harm than good. Maybe it would be more beneficial to adjust expectations for everyone to teach, do research, and service in a more manageable way where nothing has to fall through the cracks. That is probably wishful thinking, though.

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