My view of college changed recently.
I was sitting in a lecture hall moments before class was to begin. The professor entered, arranged her things, jotted some notes on the board and took her place to begin the day’s lecture. From the instant she opened her mouth, I realized that this hour would be spent hearing about material I had already read about the night before. I wondered: Why was I here?
Already, in the infancy of my college career, I have had this experience several times. Some professor will lecture about a topic, parroting the material the students have (hopefully) already read about in the pricey textbooks they’ve been required to purchase. The instructor’s eyes will glaze over as they continue mechanically, thinking about some research they could be working on that is far more edifying, and the students will watch this recitation with equally glazed eyes, thinking about their weekend plans or some attractive stranger sitting just out of talking distance.
Sometime later, the students will be required to return the favor by regurgitating all they have gleaned onto a test or paper, and the professor will grade them on how accurate of information parrots they were. The class will continue in this cycle until its conclusion, with students none the wiser and professors none the more satisfied.
I’m not conceited enough to assert that I know that all classes are this way, nor do I have the arrogance to think that I can tell what education “ought to be.” However, I do understand that this implementation of information recirculation is not entirely uncommon at CSU. Certainly, a university of its supposed caliber would be above this type of instruction.
This isn’t intended to be a defamation of the university; I’m grateful that I get to continue my education here. The Colorado State community is the best in the entire nation, and I’m proud to call myself a Ram. Nevertheless, I feel that it’s my right to object to unsatisfactory conditions since I am investing several thousands of dollars in this experience. Additionally, there may be others who also believe this to be of legitimate concern. And I don’t think I’m the only one who feels as though these sorts of “information regurgitation” courses are remedial.
Why do these types of courses still exist at the college level? Students have already proved their ability to parrot information in high school. The courses at that level are conducted in the same manner; students are experienced in recitation of class material. They’ve demonstrated this skill set time and time again and are ready to move onto more enriching forms of learning.
I believe the remedial recitation form is designed for the lowest common denominator; why else would instructors recycle book material during class, other than to hold the hands of those who don’t take full responsibility for their learning? The sizable investment we put into school should prove that college students are not the lowest common denominator and are responsible for their education. If the administration at CSU doesn’t trust that their incoming freshmen are capable of higher forms of education, and aren’t ready to take charge of their educations, than they should raise their admission standards.
It’s not like they’re particularly high; they accept practically all in-state transfers with a 2.0 or higher. If CSU is as of high a caliber educational institution as it is claimed to be, then they shouldn’t be subjecting their newest students to this needless drudgery.
Personally, I take these types of courses as an insult to my abilities as a learner. Recitation requires the least amount of thought out of any learning style. Indeed, the potential for classroom instruction is wasted; I believe that both students and faculty realize this. The same knowledge could be gained by a group reading of the course material. Instead of simply restating ideas, perhaps instruction could focus on articulation of information, or real-world application of skills.
Isn’t that what a college education is supposed to prepare for you anyway, the real world? Any alternative would likely be more edifying than the norm, and should certainly be up for discussion since students are investing thousands of dollars in this education. If they’re not getting the most bang for their buck, than what can the university say for itself? CSU should raise its education standards, because at this point, these types of courses are boring, insulting and a waste of money.
Sean Kennedy is a freshman with no declared major. Feedback and comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or @seanskenn on Twitter.