Blissful Ignorence?

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"Ignorence in the United States is not just bliss, it's widespread."  So says Bob Herbert in a New York Times editorial this week.  While his story focuses mostly on the problems of secondary schools, I'm convinced that those problems become higher ed's problems as well.  If 1/3 of high school students graduate unprepared for postsecondary work (another 1/3 don't graduate high school at all, and another lucky 1/3 graduate prepared) .. .  let's see, that means half of high school graduates are unprepared for college.  Yet according to the Education Trust, 70% of high school graduates do attend college within 2 years of graduating high school. 

Many of these folks struggle with the reading requirements of college; 1/4 of first-year students at 4-year colleges don't stay for their second year.  As Dr. Michael Kirst puts it, "College enrollment [is] soaring but completion is not." 

While we're waiting for the K-12 system to heal itself, what can we in higher ed do to help those struggling students improve their skills and reach for the better life promised by high literacy levels and a college degree?

8 Comments

Joan F. said:

I don't know whose mistake it is, but the word "ignorance" is spelled incorrectly in the title of this blog. How can we have hope for struggling students to improve their skills and reach for the better life when those who are teaching them and/or writing about them cannot even spell their topic own correctly?

I'm shocked -- shocked! -- to find evidence that a teacher is human! Head for the hills, the end is nigh!

In all seriousness, what do our students learn when they see us pouncing upon the imperfections of our fellow professionals? What do they learn if instead they see us giving and responding to constructive criticism?

Mike Arnzen said:

Thanks for pointing out that "Clueless in America" article, Lee. I'm shocked by the rate of high school dropouts these days. I think the solution lies in getting young people to value learning (not memorizing historical facts, as the article seems to suggest with its examples).

Have you seen the film "Idiocracy"? It takes this to the extreme and imagines what the world will really be like. It's a comedy, and this is a serious topic, but I believe comedies and other forms of pop culture like it can get us to both "laugh at ourselves" and also open our eyes and get us to reevaluate our culture -- even if we're all high school drop outs.

Jielea said:


I need to admit that this is not cool. I cannot believe the actual rate. I hope the government will take time to focus on this students because i believe in the end the students will also have the government.

Gold said:

It is a must that our authorities should take a look at this issue because somehow it affects us all.

Vegas Seo said:

Someone who have the power to act should give time about this situation.

Education is the key to success. I hope we can find ways to help struggling students.

I think you all agree that if a kid wants to study he/she studies, if not then we get what we get. To my opinion there are two ways to boost the desire of this type. First, to make the process of education interesting, it means the quality of teachers, their level of proficiency and not only within the subject they teach but proficiency in teaching itself. You all know, I am sure, gurus in mathematics or IT being unable to teach you essential thing out of their subject. Second is of course to let the kid understand that he is doing it for himself, not for his mom. To let him realize that he is fully responsible for the future. Hope this help.

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