Friday, July 23, 2010

The Real Challenge for Higher Education

Original Article

Summary goes here!

Basically, Mr. Walters' observation matches that of mine - the major problem of the US education ( not just the higher education) is in the culture, which I used to term it: attitude/responsibility (see my various post here and in my old archive). Being a person originated from one of the Asian countries, I was able to point this out quite a few years back. With kids growing up in the US and went through the teens, I can feel these even more personally.

I can certainly confirm that the education culture where I came from is quite different from that of American. However, it is not necessary in the way Mr. Walters described. When I grew up, teachers do hold highly authoritative and respective positions as they traditionally do. In addition to that, the opportunity to attend college is quite limited. Only about 30% of high school graduates will be admitted into colleges. College entrance exam is how fates are determined. Study is not an option but a mandate. Well, yes, there are still students that would not study. But, in general, there is that pressure. The exam culture is also extended to any government job. You have to pass exam to hold certain government jobs. Even in the business world, diploma still hold a lot of water.

After I left the country, the country went through a massive education reform led by a Nobel laureate, who naively believed in the US education system. The country is now posting a college going rate of almost hindered percent. But as you might have imaged, this does not translate to the overall education gain - graduates from the dumbed down institutions are simply not well-educated.

If you think about this a bit, it may make sense to you: If the college admission is given, what will drive a student to study hard? Once in the college, what can a professor do? Can he or she failed all the students? As you can see, this is what the entitlement built on!

I certainly admire the open enrollment system of the US community college system which provides a second chance for people failed to learn in high school. However, I believe in that a person will not learn unless he wanted to learn. A person should be required to demonstrate his will by passing a high standard remedial education.

The 'culture' do not come easy. It is built on the responsibility. The whole society have to be asked to take responsibility. This may include cruel laws - in American's standard.

I always admired American's giving spiritual. However, there are cases that the giving spiritual diminished the requisition of responsibility.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Colleges and the Common Core

Original Article

Common assessments is the question!
Actually, I think the most important question raised by the article is the common assessments.

If we assuming, for a moment, that the assessments is accurate. Is there any reason to against the common assessment? For me, I don't see any reason to against it ( I will address Donald Asher's comment later). The question left is, then, how can we make these assessments reasonably accurate. Ideally, the assessments will provide useful information on various measurements. There is no reason to limited to, say, one score for math. There could have one score for algebra, one score for trigonometry ... etc. There is also no reason to limit depth except to limited the number of questions students have to answer.

With these assessments in place, the rest is history. Do we need common core? Will college using these assessments for admission? The answer to these two question are obvious. We do not need common core since these assessments will drive the curriculum and schools can pick whatever way to teach their students. If these assessments are accurate, I can't see why college would not use them.

Now to the comment of Mr. Asher: the creativity. Apparently, Mr. Asher is very proud of the American innovation machine. The thing I would like to point out is that, at this point, it may be true that American have been innovated. But I am not so sure this is directly linked to the American education system. Also, for a long time, China and India have to fight for their survival first. Mr. Asher's arguments on teaching to the test is also questionable. Personally, I went through all these test preparation culture and I can tell you that those people who standout are those really understand the material. Teaching to the test does not work - especially if the assessment is well designed. The entrepreneur argument isn't without a flaw either. In American there are plenty of foreign born entrepreneur and much of them are in the hi-tech field. Besides, Microsoft and Cisco are created by nerds who are of no typical American kids.