I am currently reading and doing some necessary catching up in some of my classes right now before the next semester starts. The last chapter I was required to read from one of my texts consists of a journal article entitled “Teaching Challenges in Higher Education” by Anton L. Allahar (this article led to the writing of this blog). Nevertheless, my catching up right now: not the most ideal position because I would much rather be relaxing. However, this past year has proven to be a very hard walk uphill for me. Not that I deserve a break, but I worked very hard.
This year I graduated from a law clerk program; co op endorsed. I chose to go to university because of the level of success I had in college. The two are completely different. In class size, class content, and expectations from you as a student.
First year at the university is not very ideal for anyone. There are large classrooms, possibly packed to the max. Sometimes classes use what is called a “clicker.” So as the number of students in a class goes up, I believe that the quality of classroom interaction has gone down. I think classroom interaction is essential to quality education. It creates debate, discussion, and allows other individuals to see what others can possibly be thinking or how others are even interpreting the data. I guess today the debate and discussion occurs online in message boards and interactive live chat rooms during lecture times.
I am also noticing that more and more people are choosing a higher education not just at an undergrad level but at a graduate/post graduate/PhD level. I am meeting more and more people who are interested in obtaining their masters or are currently in their masters level of education. This makes me wonder “What will be the value of my degree by the time I graduate?” Should I have even applied to this program and ensued in four years of university education, to only by the end of it realize that my undergraduate studies are worth next to nothing unless I earn a “masters”? Sometimes I debate on a daily basis with myself, was I wrong or right to not go into the work force?
Even with thinking about the work force, the quality of jobs out there for my generation has gone down. There are more and more contract jobs (what good is a job to only stress about if you might have it or not when your contract period ends) and only people being hired for certain time periods for certain tasks (not being hired long term, I think, is a growing trend). More businesses are only hiring people who are experts at one thing–just look at law firms today. In the past, lawyers could practically defend anyone or represent various cases in court. Now, you have to contact the right lawyer for the right situation. Whatever happened to being “general?” Is “general” too boring? Is “general,” not the right fit for society today? This trend of specialities and “experts” can be seen even in the most simplest settings: Wal-mart. If you go in any Wal-Mart today, and you need help finding something or have a question about something, you best hope that you get an employee that is in their appropriate section. If you just ask an employee passing by, the only answer you will get is “I’m sorry this isn’t my section, but I will page someone to come help you.” You may be left waiting forever for that person to come, and left wondering “how does the person coming know which person needs help in the section I am in now when there are several other people beside me?” More likely than not, your page goes unanswered.
The heavy reliance on people with specific knowledge is where our society is left divided. Education creates this difference. For some, quality education is only available to those who can afford it and only those who qualify (re: scholarships, grants). If education was made equal and available to everyone, what would be the outcome on that? If the level of education that is required by more and more jobs, continues to rise, will we all become scholars or experts? If not, then why are we even bothering with education at all?
What good is education when the it continues to divide society?