Archive for December 8, 2011

Edupocalypse Now: Removing the BS from the BS

Aaron Lanterman has started his new blog with a bang.  He asks the question, “What would a BS (Bachelor of Science) look like without all the BS?” That is, the crud we make students take because “it’s good for them.”  That’s what Amy Bruckman was referencing (I think) when she talked about all the candidate school topics to remove so that computing could have a place.  Aaron’s point is well-taken about the high price of higher-education, and consequently, the enormous cost per good-for-you course.

My colleagues on curriculum committees – particularly those involved with ABET, the mother of all engineering curriculum committees – should remember that every class requirement represents a tremendous expense in time and money (and not just the time spent by the student). You need to have a rock-solid argument for each requirement. Your argument must be less wishy-washy than “it will help make them well rounded” and less cliche than “it will help teach them to think logically.” It must be less vain than “it’s a class I teach” or “it’s a topic I do research in.” It must be more forward-looking than “well, I was forced to take it when I was in school.” It must be more precise than “well, I took it when I was in school, and I remembered something from it that I threw into a grant proposal three years ago.” It has to be less pretentious than “aaaah! if we stop requiring this class, we’re lowering our standards!” You must to be able to argue that the class you are requiring is so vital, so essential, so irreplaceable, that a student should go deeper into debt – a particularly toxic kind of debt that is non-bankruptable – in order to take that class. Student loan debt is nearing a trillion dollars. I beg my fellow academics to think carefully about whether we are contributing to that unnecessarily.

via Edupocalypse Now.

December 8, 2011 at 9:14 am 54 comments


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