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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Students as customers

Consumer based education - the erosion of society

Is choosing a school like choosing a brand of television, clothing or food?

Should the consumer decide what it worth learning, what they need to know and how they wish to learn it?

I recently watched a television program where a group of young vampires were out to take over and run the world. The older vampire tried to tell them they were not ready, that they did not have the experience, patience and eduction to be the leaders and custodians of society. Of course they laughed him off, since at their age they felt ready and qualified for anything.

Should the buyer determine the inventory? What is taught? How much to pay?

Faculty are making, in real adjusted incomes, less than they did ten years ago and far less than at what be the height or American public education, the late 1960's and early 70's. That's full time faculty, which may be a dieing breed. It seems that the students, or consumers, expect teachers to do their jobs and do them well at pay levels the student consider fair. And students constantly complain about courses they are "forced" to take, ones they feel have no bearing on their lives or their futures. Classes such as history, philosophy, communication and art history. They see no value in the liberal arts, the very foundation of an educated, civic and operational society.

Can society function if students control education? What will happen to the advancement of scholarly knowledge? To the higher goals of education to advance society? To Jefferson's dream of a liberal arts  or classically trained educated electorate? To the ability to rise to higher levels of thought, achievement and intellectual advancement?

Will there be a classically educated elite and a trade educated, or self determined educational track workers caste?

In a consumer based system sales comes into play. Students are sold programs, and schools, with climbing walls and movie theaters in the student union, and campus social life overtaking the quality of programs and the basic foundation courses for success in our society. If it is about commissions then the power is in the hands of the marketers and not the educators.

Should the public, as a consumer, determine what constitutes an education?

Define education. Can society operate without a well balanced educational base? Yes, but lost will be the leaders, thinkers and the very foundation of Democracy, and educated voter base. I know of a school teacher who does own a single book. I am including e-books! This person is leading, teaching and influencing a future generation while not believing in or practicing the literacy tool of reading.

There is a role for trade colleges, on-line schools, public education systems, church based education and adult education programs. They all have value provided students understand that the school is set up to teach what you need to learn and to prepare the students for what comes next. Students are seldom in a position to decide if they need history, math, science, English, communication or other courses. Let the professionals guide you.

Make educated choices in choosing those professionals, then accept that they have your best interests in mind and follow the course work, doing the best you can and above all, to its completion and graduation.

First posted January 9, 2010

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