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“Fat, dumb and happy”

December 8, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Just too much traveling of late to be consistent in blogging–Bangkok last week, Calapan on Sunday to Monday.  In Manila now for five days and then off to America on Dec 13.

“Fat dumb and happy” may be a description of what will result if we continue the staus quo in our university education in America according to this piece on the problem of University Education via Felix Salmon.

The following article on Universities and Economic Growth by Philip Greenspun stimulated my thinking because it reveals yet again the pointlessness of an over-reliance on lecture as a form of education.   As opposed to adult dialogue education! Greenspun writes,

Pedagogy researchers have found that people stop paying attention after about 20 minutes. That’s as long as a lecture should be at a university. After 20 minutes, the students can break up into small groups to solve problems, with the teacher wandering around the room assisting groups as necessary

Pity the poor prof for whom Greenspun described what actually happened in the first 20 min of class. He provides a scathing review for how ineffective are so many things about our university level education and warns that this will have a future negative consequences for our society and economy.   He offers two Simple Changes: “Stop grading your own students” and “Stop lecturing”, two Modest Changes: “Build open offices for students and “Provide detailed review of all work; grade students on their ability to assist other students” and one Big Change for Engineering: Teach Engineering.

It is a long article but worth reading if you are an educator, one being educated or one paying for either of the above!

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