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Are high school and college anachronisms?

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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby WestSideYuppie » Thu Apr 25, 2013 11:22 pm

Igor wrote:At the root of the problem:

- HR departments use degrees to filter out applications. Sometimes this is appropriate. Other times, it is just expedient.

Businesses will only put up with traditions for so long if they're costly and unproductive. If a degree has no value, we'll see more hiring of people who have skills but no degrees, because those people might be willing to work for a lower wage (younger, no college loans to pay off, etc.).

One possible reason for the degree requirement, is that it's a check box in the "hourly versus exempt" worksheet. By requiring a degree, you can put somebody on "exempt" status, and avoid paying them overtime.

Degree requirements have been malleable in the past. In the early 80's, people were getting hired as programmers, with as little as a semester or two of programming from a community college, or they were even self-taught. I knew a few musicians who got tired of starving, and became programmers.

- It is not in the best interests of a university to let a student get a degree in 3 or 3.5 years instead of 4 or 5.

The easiest way to assist students with loans would be to either figure out how to cut General Degree Requirements, or else more accurately target them to their majors. My 20 credits of Music Appreciation, History, Geography, and Astronomy were easy A's but I'm not sure that they affected my life in any way.


Here, I agree. It might not even be necessary to cut the requirements, but just figure out how students end up on the 5 year plan due to bureaucratic snafu's etc. But once again, businesses could take the lead by adopting a different set of accreditation standards, effectively saying: "You don't need a degree, but your transcript has to show that you completed the following alternate requirements."
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby jman111 » Fri Apr 26, 2013 8:47 am

WestSideYuppie wrote:
Igor wrote:At the root of the problem:

- HR departments use degrees to filter out applications. Sometimes this is appropriate. Other times, it is just expedient.

Businesses will only put up with traditions for so long if they're costly and unproductive. If a degree has no value, we'll see more hiring of people who have skills but no degrees, because those people might be willing to work for a lower wage (younger, no college loans to pay off, etc.).

One possible reason for the degree requirement, is that it's a check box in the "hourly versus exempt" worksheet. By requiring a degree, you can put somebody on "exempt" status, and avoid paying them overtime.

In the past, I've heard several hiring managers defend the degree requirement by viewing an undergraduate degree as a demonstration of one's ability to learn. The skills generally required to succeed in an undergrad program are demonstrative of the basic skills needed to succeed in most entry-level positions. Of course, mileage may vary in this regard.
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby Detritus » Fri Apr 26, 2013 8:54 am

Igor wrote:The easiest way to assist students with loans would be to either figure out how to cut General Degree Requirements, or else more accurately target them to their majors. My 20 credits of Music Appreciation, History, Geography, and Astronomy were easy A's but I'm not sure that they affected my life in any way.

Those "unnecessary" breadth requirements are what define a BA/BS degree. If you want a degree focusing just on what you think you will need for your future job (a very shortsighted attitude, in my opinion), go get an AA.
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby Stebben84 » Fri Apr 26, 2013 9:12 am

Igor wrote:My 20 credits of Music Appreciation, History, Geography, and Astronomy were easy A's but I'm not sure that they affected my life in any way.


Unfortunately a lot of people view the breadth requirements as a way to get an easy A. They find classes that they know are easy so they can coast by. I'm not sure if that's how you approached it Igor, but many do. Here are the UW's requirements:

Natural Science, 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
Humanities/Literature/Arts, 6 credits
Social Studies, 3 credits

Fortunately they're not telling exactly what course to take, but just a general area of requirement. You say they didn't affect your life in any way and that's too bad. You should have picked courses that you were genuinely interested in and felt you could learn something from. There are a ton of classes to choose from within these categories and the purpose is to round out you educational experience. I ended up taking a bunch of philosophy courses which I feel DID affect my life.

I had a professor once tell me that if I came to school simply to get a job, then I missed the point.
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby bleurose » Fri Apr 26, 2013 3:13 pm

I looked for classes to fill my breadth requirements in areas & subjects that I found interesting. Were they an easy A? Not always, but because I really enjoyed being in those classes, they actually were stress relievers for me. I took things like the history of medicine, music appreciation and Irish history which are a long way away from my majors (bacteriology & genetics).

And yes, they did add to my life overall.
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby ouroborus4 » Fri Apr 26, 2013 3:52 pm

I've heard from many students lately that the traditional school/college settings are not meeting their needs. Not in terms 'why do i need to study this particular thing when i'll never use it', but more in terms of stifling creativity and true potential. These are bright kids who are looking for a nuturing environment in which to develop and express their true talents to bring to the market place, and they are not finding it in a traditional school setting.
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby WestSideYuppie » Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:34 pm

ouroborus4 wrote:I've heard from many students lately that the traditional school/college settings are not meeting their needs. Not in terms 'why do i need to study this particular thing when i'll never use it', but more in terms of stifling creativity and true potential. These are bright kids who are looking for a nuturing environment in which to develop and express their true talents to bring to the market place, and they are not finding it in a traditional school setting.

This seems like an empty assertion.
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby WestSideYuppie » Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:36 pm

I should clarify one of my comments. "If a degree has no value" was intended to be a Big If.
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby Igor » Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:33 pm

Stebben84 wrote:
Igor wrote:My 20 credits of Music Appreciation, History, Geography, and Astronomy were easy A's but I'm not sure that they affected my life in any way.


Unfortunately a lot of people view the breadth requirements as a way to get an easy A. They find classes that they know are easy so they can coast by. I'm not sure if that's how you approached it Igor, but many do. Here are the UW's requirements:

Natural Science, 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
Humanities/Literature/Arts, 6 credits
Social Studies, 3 credits


I had 6 Literature, 6 humanities, 6 English, 6 History, 3 Social Science, 8 Science, 2 Communications, 4 Math, and 4 Phy Ed, if I remember correctly. What you have indicated seems like the requirements may be less now.

Stebben84 wrote:Fortunately they're not telling exactly what course to take, but just a general area of requirement. You say they didn't affect your life in any way and that's too bad. You should have picked courses that you were genuinely interested in and felt you could learn something from. There are a ton of classes to choose from within these categories and the purpose is to round out you educational experience. I ended up taking a bunch of philosophy courses which I feel DID affect my life.


I did try to take courses in which I had an interest, when possible. Took military history, which was fine. I loved Geography, and briefly considered minoring in it, but I already had a double major, and could not have asked my parents to help with any more than 4 years. (Looking back, it was pretty presumptuous to think that they could help at all) However, the class was just High School geography, only with a worse teacher.

Stebben84 wrote:I had a professor once tell me that if I came to school simply to get a job, then I missed the point.


I have no quibble with people who wish to get a good, well rounded, liberal arts education. I just know that some don't have the luxury to do so, and if we can lessen the time or money load on them, more might be able to take advantage.

On a only mildly related note - as a Math major, it always bugged me that most other majors only had to take 1 (or 0) math class, and in many cases, it could be just a High School-level Trig or Algebra class. It seems like if I had to read Coleridge, the Lit students should have had to take Calculus. Just sayin'...
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby city2countrygal » Sat Apr 27, 2013 5:27 am

Igor wrote:It seems like if I had to read Coleridge, the Lit students should have had to take Calculus. Just sayin'"...

Are you kidding me, Igor?

Reading poetry and doing calculus are not the same, IMO.

First, if you are in college, you should hopefully be able to read. You do not, however, need to comprehend math at the level of ghosts of departed quantities.

If your example was Beowulf instead of Coleridge, I would not disagree. For Old English is, like calculus, another language to me.

    Forthwith this frame of mine was wrenched
    With a woeful agony,
    Which forced me to begin my tale;
    And then it left me free.

    Since then, at an uncertain hour,
    That agony returns;
    And till my ghastly tale is told,
    This heart within me burns.

    I pass, like night, from land to land;
    I have strange power of speech;
    That moment that his face I see,
    I know the man that must hear me:
    To him my tale I teach.

    What loud uproar bursts from that door!
    The wedding-guests are there:
    But in the garden-bower the bride
    And bride-maids singing are:
    And hark the little vesper bell,
    Which biddeth me to prayer!

    O Wedding-Guest! this soul hath been
    Alone on a wide wide sea:
    So lonely 'twas, that God himself
    Scarce seemed there to be.

    O sweeter than the marriage-feast,
    'Tis sweeter far to me,
    To walk together to the kirk
    With a goodly company!—

    To walk together to the kirk,
    And all together pray,
    While each to his great Father bends,
    Old men, and babes, and loving friends,
    And youths and maidens gay!

    Farewell, farewell! but this I tell
    To thee, thou Wedding-Guest!
    He prayeth well, who loveth well
    Both man and bird and beast.

    He prayeth best, who loveth best
    All things both great and small;
    For the dear God who loveth us
    He made and loveth all.

    The Mariner, whose eye is bright,
    Whose beard with age is hoar,
    Is gone: and now the Wedding-Guest
    Turned from the bridegroom's door.

    He went like one that hath been stunned,
    And is of sense forlorn:
    A sadder and a wiser man,
    He rose the morrow morn.

I failed calculus twice. That and chemistry are the two disciplines that lead to my demise as an engineer. How’s a stoner supposed to memorize ALL that has matter?
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby pjbogart » Sat Apr 27, 2013 8:55 am

city2countrygal wrote:If your example was Beowulf instead of Coleridge, I would not disagree. For Old English is, like calculus, another language to me.


We went over Beowulf in Old English, but it's really hardly English at all, so it was more like a sampling history lesson than a reading assignment:

HWÆT, WE GAR-DEna in geardagum,
þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon!
oft Scyld Scefing sceaþena þreatum,
monegum mægþum meodosetla ofteah,
egsode eorlas, syððanærest wearð
feasceaft funden; he þæs frofre gebad,

I did have the experience of slogging through Chaucer's Canterbury Tales in Middle English, but it's mostly readable:

Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
Tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the ram his halve cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(so priketh hem nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of engelond to caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby WestSideYuppie » Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:32 am

I taught the college algebra course for one semester at UW, years ago. Most math-oriented people think that everybody should learn calculus, and are annoyed to discover that it's not a graduation requirement. But there's a practical matter to consider, of just how many students come out of high school ready to learn calculus.

Math has the problem, that it "builds on itself." It doesn't matter how bright you are, if you learned "test taking skills" instead of math in high school, then you have no hope of learning calculus.

This also exposes the fallacy of politicians pushing colleges to create more STEM graduates. STEM education starts before kindergarten. If you want more people to have STEM degrees right away, you'll have to dumb down the degree requirements.
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby Igor » Sat Apr 27, 2013 1:36 pm

city2countrygal wrote:
Igor wrote:It seems like if I had to read Coleridge, the Lit students should have had to take Calculus. Just sayin'"...

Are you kidding me, Igor?

Reading poetry and doing calculus are not the same, IMO.

First, if you are in college, you should hopefully be able to read. You do not, however, need to comprehend math at the level of ghosts of departed quantities.

If your example was Beowulf instead of Coleridge, I would not disagree. For Old English is, like calculus, another language to me.


I was going to say Beowulf, but Coleridge and Calculus were alliterative. Gee, I guess I did learn something from Lit class. I suppose I should have gone with Chaucer.

city2countrygal wrote:I failed calculus twice. That and chemistry are the two disciplines that lead to my demise as an engineer. How’s a stoner supposed to memorize ALL that has matter?


Our math department was not large - 40 or so white male nerds, 5 or 6 female nerds, some male and female nerds from Malaysia (we apparently got lots of international students from there) and, inexplicably, Susie. Susie was nice - but she was also a blonde cheerleader from Illinois who drove a sports car. There may have been one or two people from that group that toked up on occasion, but I don't really recall any stoners. Plenty of beer drinkers though.
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby Maggie » Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:11 am

educasion ain't that impurtont
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Re: Are high school and college anachronisms?

Postby bleurose » Mon Apr 29, 2013 10:50 am

Dated a math grad student for a while and it was his firm opinion that anything less than math 221 ('grown-up' calculus, not the apparently weak-kneed 211) was remedial math. My parents insisted that all of us take as much math, science, English and language as possible during high school so we all did 4 years of each. But even with that, I only managed to get into algebra at UW. Had to work my way up to calculus. Struggled with 221 & 222, refused to take 223. And my struggles were after getting an A in both algebra & trig so I'm working on the assumption that I'm not 'math stupid'. But still..
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