The Irascible ProfessorSM

Irreverent Commentary on the State of Education in America Today

by Dr. Mark H. Shapiro
Education has become the prisoner of contemporaneity.  It is the past, not the dizzy present, that is the best door to the future...  ...Camille Paglia, Sex, Art, and American Culture (1992).
Commentary of the Day - Jan. 16, 2000: The "Marks" of a College Graduate:
The powers that be here at Krispy Kreme U have been engaged in a "Marks" project.  Prompted by an impending WASC accreditation visit, a subcommittee of our University Planning Committee has been developing a set of characteristics (marks) that would apply to all of our graduates.  Krispy Kreme U is a very diverse place.  We have more than 25,000 matriculated students, and we offer degrees in disciplines that range from accounting to women's studies.  Our students come from a very wide range of cultural, economic, and ethnic backgrounds.  Finding a single set of "marks" that would apply to all our graduates could be a daunting task indeed.

The "Marks of a CSUF Graduate" as proposed by the committee are:

  • Our graduates value self-awareness, social responsibility, and ethical decision-making, and possess the initiative and perseverance to achieve their educational, career, and civic goals.
  • Our graduates communicate effectively, demonstrating careful analysis and sound reasoning.
  • Our graduates are skilled in using state-of-the-art technology for research, analysis, and presentation.
  • Our graduates work effectively in multicultural environments.
  • Our graduates are experienced contributors on teams and in collaborative settings.

Now, as far as the Irascible Professor is concerned, the above set of "marks" are pretty shallow.  There is little in them that would suggest that our graduates have received a mind opening educational experience.  To counter this politically correct pablum, the IP proposes the following set of "alternative marks" that ought to apply to any college graduate worthy of his or her degree:

  • A college graduate has achieved competence in an academic discipline.
  • A college graduate is literate.  He or she can communicate clearly and effectively in the English language, and adequately in at least one other language.
  • A college graduate is numerate.  He or she can reason quantitatively, and can interpret statistical arguments correctly.
  • A college graduate possesses the ability to think logically and incisively.  He or she has the courage to challenge accepted dogma and received wisdom, and is not afraid to suggest new solutions to difficult problems.
  • A college graduate values individual achievement, and judges others on their character and accomplishments rather than superficial characteristics of ethnicity, gender or belief.
  • A college graduate respects the right of others to hold views that differ from his or her own.
  • A college graduate has the capacity to lead as well as follow.  He or she can work effectively with others in an ethical and responsible manner.
  • A college graduate is a responsible member of his or her community whether acting individually or in concert with others.
  •  A college graduate knows both the benefits and limitations of technology, and knows that the use of technology is never a substitute for clear thinking and responsible decision making.

What do you think?  Let the Irascible Professor know which set of "marks" should apply to our graduates.


The Irascible Professor invites your comments.
©2000 Dr. Mark H. Shapiro - All rights reserved.