Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Colleges' Math - Science Death March

The group that made a YouTube
video denigrating the education
they were ignoring while they made it
-- and then wondering
why they couldn't understand
the material they were ignoring.
But maybe there's a reason that so many drop out?
But, it turns out, middle and high school students are having most of the fun, building their erector sets and dropping eggs into water to test the first law of motion. The excitement quickly fades as students brush up against the reality of what David E. Goldberg, an emeritus engineering professor, calls “the math-science death march.” Freshmen in college wade through a blizzard of calculus, physics and chemistry in lecture halls with hundreds of other students. And then many wash out.
So what? There's a reason why they made those courses so hard -- so 75% of the freshmen WOULD drop into something else. They need the worthless chaff to switch and leave the wheat behind.

The STEM courses have always been difficult if your preparation
  • consisted of "fun" and "dropping eggs" and stupid computer games pretending to teach.
  • involved "student-directed learning", standards-based grading based on vague rubrics instead of knowledge and ability, and open-ended questions with no middle, beginning or point.
  • didn't include calculus, chemistry, and physics.
  • focused on inquiry-style explorations that managed to avoid inquiring or knowledge.
  • didn't involve 40-page research papers and English teachers who dropped the grade by a LETTER for each grammatical mistake on an in-class, timed essay.
  • focused on computer usage and gaming rather than programming. (Hello World!)
I love the appeal to pity "a blizzard of calculus, physics and chemistry in lecture halls with hundreds of other students. And then many wash out."

If you can't learn from her,
you need to change your major.
It's hard. It's supposed to be hard. None of these careers has all that much room for error and few have much room for whiny crybabies. There's a LOT to learn. Relying solely on a Google search and a Wikipedia article while building a 2000' skyscraper is dubious at best. If you can't hack it, get out of the way of those who can.

Face facts. Stop lying to yourself.  Tell your momma to go home; this is your time to make a decision. Work for a degree or don't. There are lots of people who destroy their health and hole up like an anchoress to get a degree in this stuff. Slide your lazy, drunken, over-sexed butt into something more your speed.

If you can't put some effort into the $35,000 /year you're spending (or borrowing), why should anyone care about you and your obvious lack of critical thinking and adult decision-making skills?


  1. Unlike K-12, college is not designed and should not be designed to make everyone succeed at everything that's taught. Some kids might do better if taught by professors whose English was more intelligible, and some in smaller classes, but it should never be the goal to keep every student in the major he or she thought would be a good idea before enrollment.

  2. Hear hear! You *are* a curmudgeon, and I must be, too, because I agree with you so often.