Friday, September 07, 2012

Educational Microevolution

It occurred to me the other day that the current changes underway in education are a little like the peppered moth in England in the 17 and 1800s.  In the 1700s, before the Industrial Revolution, white peppered moths thrived because they blended into the trees. Black peppered moths, on the other hand, were easily seen by birds and so were much lower in population.

Enter the Industrial Revolution and the burning of coal all over England.  The trees became sooted and now, the population of black peppered moth began to thrive and the population of the white peppered moth took a nose dive.  In biology this is called natural selection--nature "selects" for survival the species that are most suited to adapt to a particular environment.

It occurred to me that we are seeing a similar shift in college education right now, especially in the online environment. The professor who nature will select tends to be more administratively gifted, one who gives relatively quick feedback and can manage more and more moving parts. This is especially true for online courses.

Relevance is another element. Somehow, a lot of colleges and universities have been able to get by with a frequent focus on truth for its own sake.  With the availability of online classes and the rise of community colleges, the stationery "come live here for 4 years" college won't be able to compete unless their greater value is somehow apparent, especially if they remain exorbitantly more expensive.

So the old professor who just lectures and talks about whatever research s/he's doing, of no interest or relevance to the student is a white peppered moth in an Educational Revolution. The ponderous, absent minded professor, the foreign grad student that no one can understand, they're not going to be selected.  The deep professor who leaves the student thinking, "It sure sounds like English but I haven't a clue what she's saying"... crow feed.

The college that specializes in the liberal arts, unless they're high end or have other programs to keep that sinking consumer ship afloat... bird prey.


Angie Van De Merwe said...

Does America need to "dumb down" education, like it has for the past number of years, to be able to meet the students needs? That sounds like we are headed for a continual evolutionary decline in America. How does America compete when everyone is so concerned about making those that are "unselected" feel better about themselves?

Are educational standards judged on "computor punch cards", where people who teach different subjects can't be gauged on the content involved? Are teachers in the end "dumbed down" because they want to give the computor graded tests to make it easier to judge the class's overall learning to satisfy bureaucrats? Is that really learning? What is learning to "think", or conceptual learning going to be in a climate like this? Isn't that the problem with online education and public education today?

And what about the subjects that are important for safety and health of the public? Is science and engineering to be "dumbed down" so that people can pass an educational standard, while not knowing the subject well enough to be trusted with the health and safety of the public?? That is an ethical question, not a business one!

Angie Van De Merwe said...

"Love" has little to do with quality, does it (if I speak with the tongues of men and angels, but have not love...)? Since "love" is considered the "higher end" of Christianity, that is why "Christian" is usually considered "sub-par". "Christian" also means, less pay for similar work in the secular world, doesn't it? As taking a job that pays less shows some "sacrifice for Christ" mentality. So does "Christian" mean "unselected"? Yes, according to scripture. But, should "Christian" mean "sub-par" , low-paying and sacrificial and "unselected"? No, according to ethical standards.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

"Ethics" has to do with seeking a universal. In America, we understand that laws protect against unethical behavior, because each citizen is considered equal in respect to opportunity, but, natural selection means that we are born "unequal". Since inequality is the state of nature, should we view government as the controller/overseer ("Leviathan") of natural human inequality? Or should government allow for the natural state of things and allow competition be the determinor of the "selected"?

The choice is between a Marxist or Capitalistic view of life.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

The FF believed that "the elect" were the leaders, while the sheeple would follow their lead. Leaders in our FF's day were educated. Today, anyone that can "sell" a point to make their point can gain a following, not because of their ability to communicate "the facts of the matter", but because of their salesmanship!

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Love has little to do with discrimination (not quality)... but humans MUST discriminate, if they are to think at ALL! The way we discriminate is making judgements about our values and what interests us. This is the liberal fallacy that we can be human and not discriminate!!!