Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Dumb...with honors

Here's an interesting conundrum for you to consider. A study finds that college graduates these days lack basic quantitative skills--how to figure out if there's enough gas in the tank to make it to the station for a refill, for example. And there's another report that says literacy rates are dipping among even the best college students.

One expert cites “sobering” data about the amount of time students spend on their studies. One study at Illinois State found that honors students were assigned an average of fewer than 50 pages of reading a week, and that two of five students acknowledged completing less than half of that work. “Students seem to spend a lot of time on Facebook, and when you think about the literate practices involved in Facebook, that’s probably not contributing a lot to the scores on something like this literacy test,” he said.

Charles Miller, the head of the federal higher education commission, said it was impossible to know for sure whether the damning data in the literacy report necessarily mean that colleges are doing too little to prepare their graduates to think for themselves. But what seems evident, he said, is that colleges need to be able to measure how much they are contributing to students’ knowledge — which they can do only by more consistently testing what their graduates know and have learned.

“We don’t have a clue what they’re really learning if you don’t measure it,” he said.


Lack of basic skills, a drop in literacy -- that doesn't stop one Ivy League behemoth from inflating grades. Here's that story.

There's a strange message here in these reports. Dumbth reigns. And it comes Summa Cum Laude.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I only had 50 pages a week...

4:38 AM  
Anonymous Hillary said...

I especially like the complicated literature in this article - like 'sobering' and 'damning'.

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

not surprising.
the vice-president of the world can't even distinguish between quails and a lawyer.

2:43 PM  
Blogger Morgaine said...

I think the problem is even worse than this study implies. I know too many people with degrees who can't conjugate a verb. Most people spend their spare time online instead of reading, and the less practice you get, the lower your comprehension.

The state of our government shows the lack of knowledge in American History and the inability of most people to apply critical analysis to news and current events. Lou Dobbs gave a statistic recently that 1 in 6 adults in this country is functionally illiterate. That's staggering when you consider that all Americans have access to free education. It means that 1 in 6 of us can't read an average news paper. That's frightening.

I remember 20+ years ago I was allowed to forego writing an essay to prove that I could read and write when I graduated because of my AP exams and the fact that I'd gotten high grades in Honors courses. That told me that my University - by all accounts a fine school - was near graduating people who were illiterate. That's before the steady decline in education that began in the Reagan Administration and continues now.

People don't know their rights, the law, or what the Bill of Rights means or guarantees. They dumb enough to believe that an imperious elitist who was born, raised and educated in CT is a cowboy from Texas, that we don't torture people and that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. It makes me think we need to insist that the Electoral College be used in the manner it was intended. I hate that kind of elitism, but I just don't trust people to know what is going on anymore.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess you can't talk about a lack of work ethic that applies to college students without taking a few swipes at Republicans, huh?

6:07 PM  
Anonymous Hillary said...

She mentioned Republicans?

8:42 PM  
Blogger Morgaine said...

To be fair, I did mention Reagan. Since I had to end my education due to his cuts to the student loan program, I think that's appropriate.

And please excuse the typo: the second sentence of my last paragraph above should begin "They're."

3:43 AM  
Anonymous littlem said...

"People don't know their rights, the law, or what the Bill of Rights means or guarantees. They dumb enough to believe that an imperious elitist who was born, raised and educated in CT is a cowboy from Texas, that we don't torture people and that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. It makes me think we need to insist that the Electoral College be used in the manner it was intended. I hate that kind of elitism, but I just don't trust people to know what is going on anymore."

That's bordering on totalitarian thinking. As the child of two educators, even though I believe support the objections behind your argument, by its logical extrapolation (logical like a computer, I mean - untempered by humanitarian concerns), no functionally illiterate Afghani woman deserves rights - she only deserves to be told what to do by the people that can read.

It's way too easy for an argument like that to be co-opted by people like - oh, say, an administration that believes the Constitution "is only a piece of paper".

And, if you look at recent policy choices on everything from publication of NASA-backed global warming statistics to the absence of statutory authority for electronic domestic conversation sweeps, you might be surprised by how many of them may want precisely what you claim you want in your post. An uneducated electorate.

2:26 AM  
Anonymous littlem said...

OK, the irony of making a passionate argument about education and ending a sentence with a fragment. Post-proofread.

Me need bed.

2:27 AM  

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