It’s so striking, that the current system all together in education needs some improvisation on it. In Micheal Wesch’s “Anti-Teaching: Confronting the Crisis of Significance”, he discusses prominent issues in today’s educational system. His article can be found here. There’s a part in today’s education that tends to be overlooked. It is certainly getting students interested in their own education. Awakening their curiosity, making them feel the insatiable desire to learn. This is actually such a truth, and is something that’s often overlooked.
Today’s world, a majority of the people in college want a degree… To get a job… Or to not get disowned by their family… Or to make money. These are the most common motives for a college degree. However, oftentimes students go in and out of college without developing a passion for anything… Or without finding something in their field that truly interests them and inspires them. The description of huge lecture halls, with the professor being in the front is so common to undergraduate studies. Especially on important classes, that are often the basics to any field. Because these classes are taken by many, a lot of times there are a few hundred students in the class. The professor is truly, as Wesch stated, usually standing in the front of the class using a mic. This could be the calculus class that contains a mix of majors. Or the English class the political scientist cares for, and the engineer doesn’t care for. However you look at it, how do students get their passion when beginning college? If students are piled in a huge lecture hall, focused on getting a high GPA… And that’s all…. Often times, students want to figure out What’s on the test, or how to study.
An even harsher reality, is that many times the introductory classes to any major are weed-out classes to the major. They make people’s lives very difficult. I remember, as an Electrical Engineering major, how Digital Signal Processing was the first class we took in EE. That class was hell. We pulled all nighters trying to figure out how to do the labs. The class had a ridiculous load, and the professors and our section TAs weren’t really engaged in teaching the class. The horror stories about the class were ridiculous. I had some friends who were Biomedical Engineering Majors who changed majors, because they just couldn’t pass DSP. These people were really passionate about BME, but just couldn’t hack it. To this day, I feel like I could’ve really loved the class. While I was studying for the final, after all the labs were out of the way, I realized how useful the material was… But all I was doing at that point was cramming for the final… Because I wanted DSP to be in my past. And it is certainly is in my past. I’ve never done ANY DSP since that day… Even though all my friends who took it at the senior level of college (at other institutions) rather than the sophmore level, said it’s an amazing class… But I always sway away from DSP.. I run a 100 miles away if I can, metaphorically, of course.
At the same time, I believe that we gain passion for what we do in part because of passionate professors in our field who teach us. In addition, it’s a more friendly and less authoritarian environment. Someone needs to show you the beauty of what you’re learning, so you go out and seek further knowledge. There needs to be a way to convince incoming students about the beauty of learning… The beauty of research..
When people get specialized, they are often taken by the idea that no matter how much they learn, they don’t know a lot of things. This is a true story. However, people won’t appreciate that, if they don’t appreciate their learning experience. If they only care to make money. If there are further motives, then people will be more engaged to learn, and be hungry to learn more. Those are my 10 cents, on learning today…