Friday, April 26, 2013

Why Professors Drink 2013.04.26

I've just finished slogging through 100+ student research projects. Sadly, they have validated my decision to retire at the end of this semester.

Nothing against the students. They are, for the most part, good kids who appreciate the opportunity they've been given to go to college. They're bright and they work hard. Sure, like most 19 and 20 year-olds, they think they know more than they do, they try to get away with doing as little work as possible, and they can be little smart-asses at times. But that's no different than you or I were at that age.

No, the sad – and frustrating – part is seeing how ill-prepared they are for college. These particular students are mostly juniors.

Juniors in college, and as you'll see below, they still have difficulty expressing themselves clearly and appropriately.

Part of the problem is regional. The university where I work is located in one of the poorest regions of the state. Most of the residents are poor, Hispanic, and undereducated. Most of my students are the first ones in their family to go to college. They grew up in homes with no native English speakers, and parents who struggled to graduate from high school (if they did manage to graduate at all). They have no role models, and no one to turn to for help or support. They don't know what they don't know.

Since most of them grew up in Spanish-speaking households, most of them are bilingual – sort of. A local joke says that being bilingual in South Texas means that you speak two languages poorly. There's a lot of truth in that.

Another problem is the local school districts. Like most public school districts, over time their focus has shifted from educating to warehousing and 'feel-good' programs. Standards and expectations have been progressively (and I use that word advisedly) lowered over the years, to the point where students can graduate without the ability to write a coherent paper.

The university is not without blame either. How did these kids come to be in my class – juniors in college, remember – without that ability? Or the ability to reason, think critically, problem-solve, and all the other skills they will need to be truly successful?


Anyway, I didn't start writing this post intending to vent about the state of today's educational system. I just wanted to share with you a little bit of my soon-to-be-former world.

Read 'em and weep.

 * * * * * * * * * *

From a paper comparing tablets and smart phones. Here's this student's perspective on one disadvantage of tablets.
A big disadvantage is, well, personally, its bulkiness. I mean really. Nobody has pockets that big unless you’re a girl with a purse.
* * * * * * * * * *

On the use of databases by the military:
The data used by the military is not used in a common sense matter. 
Actually, this kid may be on to something.

* * * * * * * * * *

For all of you out there who are concerned that liberal college professors are indoctrinating their students, take heart. I try to provide an alternative perspective. Here's what one of my students had to say.
The question to ask is “why would people be at risk”? The answer is simple, as I learned in class. Our government likes to control things.
* * * * * * * * * *

On the other hand, I try, but I can't convince them all.
Just last year we had a presidential election in which the incumbent won because the challenger was too risky to put into office.
* * * * * * * * * *

Someone's been watching too many TV shows about paranormal events.
But what happens to our email once we're gone? As in deceased?
* * * * * * * * * *

Right idea, but not very well expressed.
Indeed it would be a devastating fact that some large bank would be hacked since money no longer is put in the form of money.
* * * * * * * * * *

Right idea, but not very well expressed – part two.
As our technology advances, it simply starts to disappear.
* * * * * * * * * *

Someone really, really needs to use spell-check.
A once-shittered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab...
* * * * * * * * * *

And someone needs to forget that creative writing class.
Most definitely I learned that to be technologically relevant companies have to be always innovative and not sit on the ghosts of past triumphs.

* * * * * * * * * *

Oh well, that's the last time I'll have to perform this particular chore. Now it's time to add a little Kahlua to my morning coffee and get a preview of life after retirement...


kerrcarto said...

Obviously you are just a flaming racist.

Old NFO said...

Heh... Better youo than me my friend... Enjoy retirement!!!

CenTexTim said...

kerrcarto - Yo so en el fuego.

NFO - Thanks. I'm planning to...

Toejam said...

Hey CTT,

This one of your students?

Actually, I wouldn't mind finding her in my bath tub, she's kinda an insane sort of way.