Biocurious is a weblog about biology, quantified.

Let's get rid of universities... maybe

by PhilipJ on 24 July 2006

Bill Tozier links to and quotes the exact same things I would have, had I gotten here first. Instead I’ll simply suggest that you follow the links and read.

While most of the rant is foolish, I wholeheartedly agree with the section Bill quoted. There’s just one problem: what about science? You can’t really do science without the labs, and while many of the labs are as tedious and boring as being asked to explain Twain’s fourth paragraph, some are great. Upper level physics labs are as good an introduction to working in a “real” lab as you can expect (though real labs usually have slightly less broken equipment), and I don’t think I’d call someone a chemist unless they’ve been put through the misery of hundreds of titrations and columns. And without universities, where are you going to get this kind of instruction? So, I don’t think we need to get rid of universities, but I’m all for an overhaul of “the system”.

  1. RPM    3993 days ago    #

    But what about the ability of someone familiar with a topic to direct neophytes in their scholarly pursuits? Anyone who’s tried knows it’s difficult to jump into an unfamiliar area of study without some direction. That’s what a lot of college level courses do—they provide structure and direction for the students. Sure, a lot of kids are there because universities are degree factories. Those kids shouldn’t go to college.

    But learning material is not the most important aspect of college. Regardless of the subject you study, college (and grad school) teach you how to learn. You learn how to digest information, determining what is relevant and what is not. A college graduate should be able to read opposing views, determine which one is best supported by the evidence, and present a reasoned defense of that view.

    Of course, all of this neglects the fact that most university are research institutions first, and teaching comes (a distant) second for many faculty member.

  2. PhilipJ    3993 days ago    #

    How detailed a role do they really need to take? I’m reasonably confident I didn’t need any guidance at all in my undergraduate studies, apart from someone saying, “read all these books, make sure you can answer these questions.” That’s more or less all a bunch of my upper level courses were, since copying the textbook out again didn’t seem like a reasonable use of my time. It might work for some, but it definitely doesn’t work for all.

    I definitely agree with your main point as to what we should expect from a university graduate (though I think the same abilities should be true of a high school graduate, too).

  3. Uncle Al    3992 days ago    #

    Before one manufactures a product one would do well to have a goal. American education creates a maleable and dependent electorate by intellectual starvation, political indoctrination, and psychopharmaceutical intervention. It is a celebration of diversity (functionally useless).

    The sciences are social pariahs for requiring objective skills. Anybody who thinks a carpenter or a mason is the easy way out should try building a stairway or a wall. Every apprenticeship is attended with mind-numbing repetition and seemingly useless content. Be a journeyman for a decade and learn respect for your art or craft.

    I am puking sick of Liberal condemnation then destruction of working modalities. When do the statistically validated, obscenely expensive, centrally administered, feel good alternatives start working? Never. There is no royal road to competence short of gene-gineering intrinsically better minds. Nobody can imagine how to do that.

  4. anonymous    2621 days ago    #

    most of you seem like idiots, not understanding that college is nothing more than a scam to steal your $: most people are either clueless or pretend to be clueless, either way: college/university system ought to be banned in all countries, is only way to get rid of corruption: when i say that you all seem like idiots, i’m saying or referring to that: all of you have little or no common sense, is why there is so much wasteful spending, & so much inflation of cost of products, & wasteful government spending out of control.

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