edu quality measured

For several years I have been class reading an excerpt from Leon Botstein‘s “Jefferson’s children: education and the promise of American culture”. It says that the quality of college experience should be measured by the extent to which it influences life beyond the classroom: from dining-hall conversations to personal life choices.

It’s an alien idea with most students. I can remember a heated conversation about the labour market and pay rates in Bulgaria, in which I used some statistics on car sales (Capital Auto newspaper) as a proof to the point that there were more Bulgarians earning enough to buy new cars than my students could imagine. Then, one of them shouted: “I have not come here to have my views changed. What I have come here for is to study English to get into college.”

Ironically it’s virtually impossible to get into a good overseas (especially American) college without changing a bit yor perspective on education, i.e. by learning something and integrating it into your everyday life beyond the classroom.

There is so much resistance against learning though. Utilitarian-minded students often demand rational argumentation as to how what I am trying to teach them could be of use, so I need to spend a lot of time on justifying my methods ot the content I have chosen. Still, most students do not seem to internalize anything. Then I try to lure them by appealing to their emotionality.

The funny thing is most young people have grown so skeptical and … cynical that it’s hard to rely on offering them beautiful visions of their future (most of them are incapable ot dreaming about their own lives); what works better is appealing to their fears. How sad.

After all, the quality of education seems to depend so much on the expectations and assumptions students bring from their homes and previous schools. That’s frustrating.

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За смисъла и играта

I refuse to know

Leon Botstein is the president of my favourite Bard College

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One response to this post.

  1. “I have not come here to have my views changed. What I have come here for is to study English to get into college.”

    Most of the ideas you presented us in the course were alien to me too, but once I came in US I realized how true was everything we talked about so the sooner the students accept the ideas, the better. Otherwise once they come to study here it will be pretty hard.
    And after all doesn’t learning mean changing your views at least a little bit?


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