Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Universities overcrowded with semi-literate parasites

My pick for Post "letter of the day":
Re: Not Everyone Needs A Degree, Bill Morrison, May 2.
Some years ago I discussed with a colleague the question of how many undergraduates belong and deserve to be in our classrooms. My colleague suggested that perhaps 25% of students are properly qualified and sufficiently motivated. I found my colleague’s estimate overly optimistic, as I believed most university students possess no intellectual curiosity, but just feel entitled to higher education and do not know what else to do.
We decided to test at least one aspect of our contention: the lack of intellectual curiosity. It was decided I would announce in my second-year child psychology class that the next lecture would be mostly a debate and not cover anything that would be tested in any examination. Students were advised to come only if they were interested in a better understanding of some particular issues. The class was attended by 18 out of 120 students (15%). According to most participants, and myself, it was one of the best classes of the year.
It is regrettable that no political party in the recent election took up the problem of our crowded universities, which cater to unqualified, unmotivated, semi-literate and parasitical students. 
Characteristically, our universities “advertise” like soap sellers. The University of Western Ontario brags about the “Western experience” (number 4 on Playboy’s party list!). Other universities lure students with pretentious and dishonest slogans claiming to offer “excellence” in education.
I see no solution other than to insist, at the very least, on admission exams.
Heinz Klatt, professor emeritus of psychology, London, Ont.

Exactly, Heinz! No doubt many of these semi-literates are the same nitwits inspired by Rick Mercer's get-out-the-youth-vote "Vote-Mob" campaign. And then there's Jack Layton's free-university-for-all policy plank. Just what we need - more unqualified "students".


Grumpy Old Man said...

This might make me sound like a heritic, but I've been in favour of "free" higher education for qualified students for a long time.

I think it would be to Canada's benefit if we paid tuition and books for students in the 'hard' sciences. Engineering, chemistry, biology, physics, etc.., if the student was able to pass an entrance exam and maintained a good GPA, then fund their education. Require them to work 'in Canada' after graduation for a set term of years, or allow them to buy out by repaying what the government spent...

Oh, and the fluff courses like basket weaving or revolution 101... would not be funded. Students in those courses would have to pay their own way.

Anonymous said...

to grumpyoldman,
while it is a laudable goal you strive for the reality is tuition is high because of overcrowding (that damn supply/demand thingy). most kids at that age barely know what money is and how to make it let alone know what they want to do for the next 40 years. i did not attend college myself because i was just such a person at 19. now that i am older and semi-wiser, should what im doing now go in the dumps, i have a pretty good idea of what i would like to do and funding it myself is a hell of a motivator.



Anonymous said...

This is 100% correct. I've taught at a major Canadian university for 4 years in political science, and 75%+ of the students should not be there... though I probably wouldn't have a job if only qualified students were allowed to attend. The university constantly reminds not to grade too harshly... don't want to offend the clients, after all...

JR said...

Unfortunately people have been led to believe that everyone is entitled to go to university and the public school system has been set up to ensure that everyone who wants to go 'qualifies'. Unless realistic qualifying standards can be set and enforced nothing will change. Overcrowding will continue, crappy students will be graduated and 'qualified' to go out into the real world where they'll flop (at best - at worst do great damage). "Free" education can only make matters worse.

Anonymous said...

So true, but it is just as true that there are professors being paid to be unqualified, unmotivated and parasitical. Alas, the standards, on every level, are not what they should be .