TITLE: Students Getting There Faster AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: April 26, 2011 4:41 PM DESC: ----- BODY: I saw a graphic over at Gaping Void this morning that incited me to vandalism:
teaching is the art of getting people to where they need to be
A lot of people at our colleges and universities seem to operate under the assumption that our students need us in order to get where they need to be. In A.D. 1000, that may have been true. Since the invention of the printing press, it has been becoming increasingly less true. With the invention of the digital computer, the world wide web, and more and more ubiquitous network access, it's false, or nearly so. I've written about this topic from another perspective before. Most students don't need us, not really. In my discipline, a judicious self-study of textbooks and all the wonderful resources available on-line, lots of practice writing code, and participation in on-line communities of developers can give most students a solid education in software development. Perhaps this is less true in other disciplines, but I think most of us greatly exaggerate the value of our classrooms for motivated students. And changes in technology put this sort of self-education within reach of more students in more disciplines every day. Even so, there has never been much incentive for people not to go to college, and plenty of non-academic reasons to go. The rapidly rising cost of a university education is creating a powerful financial incentive to look for alternatives. As my older daughter prepares to head off to college this fall, I appreciate that incentive even more than I did before. Yet McLeod's message resonates with me. We can help most students get where they need to be faster than they would get there without us. In one sense, this has always been true. Education is more about learning than teaching. In the new world created by computing technologies, it's even more important that we in the universities understand that our mission is to help people get where they need to be faster and not try to sell them a service that we think is indispensable but which students and their parents increasingly see as a luxury. If we do that, we will be better prepared for reality as reality changes, and we will do a better job for our students in the meantime. -----