[OT] Mediocre Britain

Timothy Miller gandalf at doctorTimothyMiller.com
Sun Aug 28 23:08:35 EDT 2011

On Aug 28, 2011, at 7:02 PM, Judy Perry wrote:

> Don't EVEN get me started on my students...

> Judy

I'll get you started, Judy. Maybe the catharsis will do you good.

Both my kids went to a community college, and both got pretty good educations. Both have been successful academically after completing community college.

This is a summary of their many reports.

Say my kid signs up for English 5. Because it satisfies a general education requirement, it draws a lot of students. You're not allowed to take it unless you've passed the English "placement examination." Only about half the incoming first-years actually pass the English placement examination.

English 5 starts out with 100 students enrolled. (These are representative numbers, not an exact case.) Of these 50 will never attempt to read the textbook, take notes, or turn in any homework. Many of these students are sponging off Mom, partying a lot. If they're male, they are probably smoking a lot of dope and playing Call of Duty all night. They've enrolled partly to avoid parental displeasure, to avoid getting a job, to remain eligible for parental health insurance, and possibly to qualify for student loans. Some have enrolled with the naive belief that they will "get good jobs some day" if they merely enroll.

"W" day comes about half way through the semester. If you withdraw from the course before W day, you get a "W" instead of an "F" without any hit to your grade point average, though you don't get credit for the course.

The week before "W" day, about seventy students show up for the course. The rest have stopped attending, with our without Ws. The week after W day, about forty students show up for the course.

Of the remaining forty students, fifteen will fail the course. Why they didn't take W's when they had the chance is an ongoing mystery. Some of these were doomed to fail, by virtue of poor educational success in grades K-12.

The twenty-five who pass have made some effort to study.

About eight of the original 100 will get A's. They have made at least a modest effort to study and do homework. The professor, in most cases, has bravely maintained some kind of academic standard. She has taught to the students who have some desire to learn.

Many of the students who pass the course will get Cs and Ds, representing little if any mastery of the material.

This has been going on for years at my local community college, and likely many others like it around the country and maybe in the U.K., too. It is the unintended consequence of teaching first graders (and their parents) that the whole purpose of the first grade is to prepare every student for college.

I don't know where you teach, Judy. Cal State Fullerton?

I hope it's better there than at my local community college. Unfortunately, you do get some of the students who got Cs and Ds at community college.



> On Sun, 28 Aug 2011, Petrides, M.D. Marian wrote:
>> Hmmm... sounds suspiciously like "No Child Left Behind" here in the States. The sad thing on our side of the pond is that NCLB worked so well (NOT!) that they have decided to apply its principles to graduate medical education.  The scary thing is that we Boomers will be the recipients of this wonderful brand of medical care. <--- (dripping with sarcasm, if you couldn't already tell)

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