Cultivating Curiosity

The author W. Gardner Campbell seems to be critiquing the arcane strategies our education uses to “cut costs and increase access”.  He disparages “click-counts” and login tracking for being impersonal means for measuring student involvement and comprehension.  In a larger classroom environment, these can be efficient tools for preventing students from slipping under the radar.  In a 400 person class, sites like Scholar can be a great way to require interaction from students when it is impossible for teacher and student to meet individually on a routine basis.

This author seems to ironically take a close-minded approach when unpacking the traditional assessment of learning outcomes. It is easy to say that standardized testing leads to uncreative, robotic students. However, I would argue that the ‘depth and vision’ a particular student develops during their education largely depends on the character of the individual. It seems to me that education (especially higher education) should still be viewed as a privilege. It is therefor the student’s responsibility to provide quality input for a satisfactory educational outcome. Of course, we all have different learning styles. Of course, some students excel in humanities while others are better at math and science. We should acknowledge the agency of students who have made it to higher education, and understand that an engaged student has learned strategies to manage his/her academic shortcomings.

Furthermore, shouldn’t we be concerned with increasing access as educators? The socio-economic rift that is propagated by that cost of higher education is already criminal, and an issue many developed countries have long addressed. Too much of the population hasn’t had adequate preliminary education, or are too poor to even consider applying to college. Higher enrollment numbers should be celebrated, we should be focusing on how to best teach large classrooms of students for the intelligent, invested individuals as they are.  W. Gardner Campbell’s attitude seems too coddling, and doesn’t recognize today’s students as already curious and capable adults.

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