bryanc_74 saidIt's a double-edged argument:
On the other hand, universities have an unwritten (or in some cases, written) mandate to be centers of knowledge production and thinking. Practicality is a quality that stifles developments in both of these areas. It's a huge dichotomy for a place that should be teaching students how to think about the world beyond "practical skills" to simply become a worker factory.
Since post-secondary education in North America is not publicly funded, and is not independently wealthy/sustainable (because we live in a society that does not, in fact, value knowledge or its development) universities have been forced to promote themselves as the former, as opposed to the latter to maintain revenue streams. Thus students are lead to believe that their degree is necessary to obtain a job.
When I was going to high school, university was just the "logical next step". It didn't really matter if you knew what you wanted to do, you just went to university after high school because that's what you had to do to get a "good job".
Divorcing "university" from "job" would be the best thing to happen this century. Yes, a university education positions you in a more favourable spot for certain jobs (which you may or may not be after). The very notion that practicality may be preventing the world's greatest writer/scientist/historian/philosopher from becoming just that, makes me ill.
Part of doing what you love is having the courage to go after what you love. University education should be about allowing the student to explore a variety of options to discover where their passion lies, as opposed to strictly defined path-oriented programs that produce a mindless middle class.
Some people say that a 4-year college degree is the new high school diploma.
Colleges and universities have had to "dumb down” the system so that incoming students can meet university standards. One of my professors has had to scale all the exams this semester just so more than half of the class could pass. I hate scales (most of the time), extra credit, etc.
Also, I had to teach a calculus student
(!) how to divide fractions during the first week of classes back in September. Another student I tutor just cannot seem to grasp basic ideas in chemistry--she's a great student, tries very hard, and has followed all of the advice that I (and other tutors) have given to her. She is just unable to grasp the material in the allotted time.
Not to mention the classrooms are full of lackadaisical *kids* who care very little about their education and knowledge base--many care only about passing and graduating.
I'm so sick of hearing student whine, "Why do we have to learn this? It has nothing to do with what I'll be doing in my career."