Tuesday, September 08, 2009

'Higher Education' Minus the Learning

As America laments high school graduates who can't read their diploma, thus necessitating extended studies at junior college and other so-called 'institutes of learning,' even elite colleges and universities entice students into debt to study Batman, pimps, and sin.

These institutions fear that a course catalog presenting hard studies "might scare students off."

Draining the economy? It would seem that the current purpose of America's education system is to create perpetual students -- consuming tax dollars and imprisoning potential human resources.

-- From "Colleges find juicy titles swell enrollment" by Peter Schworm, Boston Globe Staff 9/8/09

As schools compete for students and faculty come under pressure to boost enrollment in their classes, colleges from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to Wellesley are jazzing up course catalogs to entice a generation of students drawn to the dramatic. This year’s offerings include crowd-pleasing topics like massacres, superheroes, and sin.

Jessica Holmes, a 38-year-old economics professor at Middlebury, is part of the younger wave. This fall, she will teach Economics of Sin, a titillating title that has sparked sharp interest, with even faculty, staff, and community members looking to audit the class.

“In what other economics class will they have the opportunity to explore pornography, prostitution, crime and punishment, drugs and drug legalization, the sale of human organs, and gambling?” Holmes asked.

The trend toward more inventive, provocative course names reflects a broader movement of professors using more creative teaching methods to capture students’ interest, Holmes and other academics say.

In that way, the catchy titles go beyond savvy marketing, a shorthand way to show students raised on text messaging and Facebook that the course has a contemporary edge. They also signal a shift away from stuffy lectures and abstruse textbooks to discussion-based, multimedia classes, and winkingly suggest the class might be entertaining.

When it came time to name his philosophy seminar last year, Jeffrey Bernstein, an associate professor of philosophy at the College of the Holy Cross, went the highbrow route with Iconoclasm and Theogony: A Tale of Two Transgressions.

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.