The End of Higher Education’s Golden Age

Clay Shirky:

One obvious way to improve life for the new student majority is to raise the quality of the education without raising the price. This is clearly the ideal, whose principal obstacle is not conceptual but practical: no one knows how. The value of our core product—the Bachelor’s degree—has fallen in every year since 2000, while tuition continues to increase faster than inflation.

The other way to help these students would be to dramatically reduce the price or time required to get an education of acceptable quality (and for acceptable read “enabling the student to get a better job”, their commonest goal.) This is a worse option in every respect except one, which is that it may be possible.

Why Speed Reading Is For Fools

Volume is easy. Speed is easy. It’s quality that’s hard. It’s thinking that’s a challenge. “I read a 1000 books a year.” Who the hell cares? …Books aren’t just trophies to hang on your wall or to stroke your ego with.

Thanks, Goodreads Annual Reading Challenge.

Books are the only medium where someone can point at a reading list and insinuate a high intellect. Try doing a Netflix Watching Challenge and see what reactions you get.

Don’t make me repeat myself

I totally feel for this kid.


I’ve seen boys being routinely misdiagnosed as ADD and medicated for it just for being well… boys. But as problematic as randomly tossing Ritalin at inquisitive boys is… this is even more serious.

Even more basic than that, if we don’t have a firm grasp of gender differences in how young children communicate and socialize, we can mistake traditional masculine behavior for high-functioning autism.

Many boys just get perplexed when you try to empathize with them. As an example, I recently had the following interaction with Alan, an eight-year-old:

Alan: In my soccer game over the weekend, the other forwards on my team never passed to me. I was so mad.

Dr. Gnaulati: You were mad because your teammates didn’t pass to you, eh.

Alan: Why are you repeating what I just said? Didn’t you hear me?

When Book Smart Kids Take Summer Classes

What does it mean to be a better writer? Do I teach you how to make a perfect cursive Z? Lorna?”

“There’s, like, grammar and stuff, and then there’s knowing what to write.”

“True. So at least two ways of becoming a better writer. First, the actual quality of your written expression: be it grammar, vocabulary, varied sentence structure. Second…..?”

“So like how you say it and….what you say?”

“That works. Okay, so let’s take it as read that you will learn the rules of grammar and punctuation and get a higher score on that section of the rubric.”

“And will learning more vocabulary make me a better writer?”

“Sure, if you internalize the vocabulary knowledge. It’s not something you can do with a test score.”

Saba: “Yeah, but if I do better on tests I’ll have more vocabulary.”

“You will? Huh. Let’s put that aside for a minute. How do you know what to write?”

Alan: “That’s what I was going to ask! How does a better vocabulary help me know how to analyze literature?”

“It doesn’t. What do you need in order to analyze literature.”

“I need to know how to analyze, what to analyze.”

“And now we come to my favorite mantra. You are saying, Alan, that you are happy to learn how to write, but you don’t know what to write.”

“Yes!” the whole class is nodding.

“Which leads me to some terrible news. Writing is thinking.”

Silence.

The Country That Stopped Reading

File under “could be worse.”

David Toscana:

The proportion of the Mexican population that is literate is going up, but in absolute numbers, there are more illiterate people in Mexico now than there were 12 years ago. Even if baseline literacy, the ability to read a street sign or news bulletin, is rising, the practice of reading an actual book is not. Once a reasonably well-educated country, Mexico took the penultimate spot, out of 108 countries, in a Unesco assessment of reading habits a few years ago.

One cannot help but ask the Mexican educational system, “How is it possible that I hand over a child for six hours every day, five days a week, and you give me back someone who is basically illiterate?”

Is Facebook Destroying the American College Experience?

Danah Boyd:

It’s high time we recognize that college isn’t just about formalized learning and skills training, but also a socialization process with significant implications for the future.

I thought this was the whole selling point of higher education for the past two decades or so. It wasn’t the education, it was the social experience…and, particularly for Ivy League schools, the connections that a young student forms by living among other upper-class, American “elite”, in order to perpetuate and strengthen that social class.

That’s why Harvard costs over $50k a year.1

Flippin’ Degrees for Profit

Remember the housing meltdown ? Tough to forget isn’t it. The formula for the housing boom and bust was simple. A lot of easy money being lent to buyers who couldn’t afford the money they were borrowing. That money was then spent on homes with the expectation that the price of the home would go up and it could easily be flipped or refinanced at a profit.  Who cares if you couldn’t afford the loan. As long as prices kept on going up, everyone was happy. And prices kept on going up. And as long as pricing kept on going up real estate agents kept on selling homes and finding money for buyers.

Until the easy money stopped.  When easy money stopped, buyers couldn’t sell. They couldn’t refinance.  First sales slowed, then prices started falling and then the housing bubble burst. Housing prices crashed. We know the rest of the story. We are still mired in the consequences.

Can someone please explain to me how what is happening in higher education is any different ?

Some Seniors Still Paying For College

…the New York Fed estimates that Americans owed $870 billion in student loans during the third quarter of last year, significantly outpacing credit card debt or auto loans. Borrowers age 60 and above accounted for 5 percent of that debt. The share for Americans age 50 and older is 17 percent.

What a great business model. Claim that state schools are shit, that private colleges are the only ones worth going to, and that you’ll need a loan from your institution in order to pay a private school’s expensive tuition and get ahead in life. Then collect loan payments for a 4-year program for 40 years.

And we’re talking about people who went to college 30-40 years ago.

“This current generation of borrowers is going to be a generation of seniors who are burdened with debt,” she said.

Yikes.

Herpderpedia

Twitter account retweeting people upset that Wikipedia is blacked out. What doesn’t look so good is the amount of tweets from people in college…like these:

https://twitter.com/heardyweardy/status/159702491783626753

https://twitter.com/SratGirlStories/status/159534312851636224

https://twitter.com/GagaCunt/status/159511575676469248