Mortuus Mater

Miserable day yesterday. Not over it but need to distract myself.

I was going to comment on an article [Link] bemoaning the disappearance of “the liberal arts” in colleges. But then I decided that I didn’t really need to dignify the demise. Yes, as an undergraduate student I had to take a few liberal arts courses and without exception, each was an abysmal failure. The composition courses failed to teach composition; I had to rely on lab courses for that. The literature courses just flat failed by being bad. There may have been some wisdom in those boring stories, essays, and novels I had to read but it didn’t get past the boredom and irrelevance. Don’t make me read books about some guy with problems, give me information on how to solve my own problems.

But I also, earlier, ran across an article [Link] entitled “The end of college? Or a new beginning? ” which is primarily about the rise of massive on-line courses. I fear in this case I view the first part of the title to be the answer to the question. I personally hate on-line courses. Never have had attention span for video. Except maybe road runner cartoons. The old one, not the new. 

But I fear two things; first, that a feeding frenzy competition will result seeking the lowest level, the most students, and the poorest learning; and second, that those students who have problems learning from videos will be disenfranchised or economically excluded. The weaknesses of these courses are evident. The drop/fail fractions are of order Sturgeon’s rule. They are things that are easy to do poorly and almost impossible to do well. And no college will expend the resources to do the latter. Not in today’s factory college environment.

Another thing that make me glad to be old.