Saturday, April 20, 2013

Living In A Bubble?

This problem goes hand in hand with grade inflation:
Here is a personal example. Just last week my daughter sent me a draft of her Philosophy paper to review. She is a freshman at Stony Brook, a branch of the SUNY system in New York. Here was the assignment, in its entirety:

What is the result of Nietzche’s genealogical analysis of the concepts of good and evil? How do they come into existence?  Your answer should include an analysis of the concept of ressentiment among other concepts you find useful in your answer. Your paper should be approximately 2 pages long with no filler.

I don’t think half of American HS graduates could answer this question adequately, yet she is taking an intro course at a state university.

I once showed a group of HS teachers a set of Freshman exams from various colleges and they could not believe how “difficult” they were.

I therefore find it a dereliction of duty that HS teachers continue to teach and assign work with no attempt to check out what is happening in the colleges they send their kids to (or, better yet, colleges they wish to send their kids to). It ought to be a required policy that each department must a few times a year look at college exams and sample student work from an array of colleges; and either invite in local professors to talk about the deficits of incoming students or visit a local college to talk with their own alumni and their professors. (And via the Internet you can find assignments and exams for any course taught.)
Not to worry, though.  I'm told the Common Core standards are so rigorous that all students will not only have read Nietzche, they'll all be as smart as Nietzche.  *snort*

On the other hand, not everyone needs to go to college, so every high school course shouldn't be geared to getting students ready for college--heresy, I know, but it's still something I believe.  So-called "honors" and "college prep" courses, along with AP and IB and the like, should, however, be rigorous.

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