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I want to be delicate about this, but I think that what
Ms. Gracie advocates, asking students to determine the
learning environment and curricula are partly what is
terribly wrong with American higher education today.  She
states that if you buy a car, the buyer "grades" the dealer
but in higher education, we "grade the customer."
 
Well, the customer is NOT the student!  Yes, the student is
ONE of the customers, but there are about 10 customers of
higher education and one of them is our society. In fact,
the only rationale for publicly-supported education is the
good of society as a whole--that is, democracy cannot work
without an educated people.  If the student were THE
customer, he/she should pay the total cost just as with
gasoline, newspapers or clothing.
 
So in public education we must be MOST mindful of the needs
of society.  A physician does not (and should not) ask the
patient to determine the treatment plan, a pilot does not
ask passengers to help develop the flight plan and and
engineer does not ask the customer to help determine the
gauge of metal or steel used in the building.  If students
knew what they should learn, they know enough not to need
college.  And whatever we think TODAY about subject matter
needs, they may well be far different tomorrow.
 
So, basic, fundamental, learning-to-learn is the best
safeguard for both a full, future life and to survive the
economic jungle.  BUT, over the past years we have, too
often, watered down and twisted the college curriculum to
more nearly "satisfy" the desires of students than to
provide the best course of action for their futures. It is
our job to determine standards and we should not abdicate
this responsibility to others.  I hope that I haven't
ruffled feathers, but this is serious.
 
Marty Solomon <[log in to unmask]>