Friday, July 15, 2016

Spoonfed all the way

The dude that posted that "Teaching, not research should be universities' main mission" is sadly mistaken about the role universities play in society. The university is not play-school. The university is where the big kids go to learn stuff. Learn, not be taught. Universities are where discoveries are made, where expeditions into the unknown are undertaken. Universities are all about research, and for the verification of that which is purported to be True. Eventually, from those discoveries, new knowledge trickles down to be taught in schools.

At the university, there are no teachers. Every student is both a learner and a sharer of that which he or she has learned.The more experienced staff -- the professors and graduate students -- share their research, the undergraduates learn what it takes to challenge the research being shared with them, and if qualified, get to undertake research on their own in time.

Ironically, the letter writer has no clue that what he is asking for is at cross-purposes with itself:
Tertiary students are self-propelled, literate, curious and energetic. The “what” and “how” of engaging them should ride on this spontaneity. Let them participate and seek new ways of learning.There should be space for inquisitive minds to explore disciplines beyond their specialisation. Let them take elective modules in colleges outside their own.
They should be exposed to diversity, with student populations representative of the world. Cross-cultural acumen is imperative in this age of globalisation.
He is absolutely right about his observations about the activities that go on at the university, but if by the time one gets to become an undergrad and still doesn't know how to teach and make the best use of available resources for oneself, one is already handicapping one's own learning -- by going in with a fail-blame-other-people attitude. Such 'students' are only interested in possessing a titular degree, but have little respect for the responsibility that comes with it: that of contributing in return new knowledge through their own research thus enriching human understanding as a whole.

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