Friday, March 23, 2007

I got a kick out of this comment - it is so wrong

A special thanks to the commenter who wrote this up. Taken from the student fatigue thread -
Anonymous said…

Peter wrote:
I wonder if SIU isn't going to be in the business of teaching untrained students how to take notes, study, research and other fact of life study skills?

Prof X:
We are doing this and have been for ages. (Side note: research is a college level skill.)

Peter wrote:
I don't think the kids are dumb, they just don't have the basic skills for high academic achievement.

Prof X:
Sorry, often – but not always - the reason people don’t pick up the basics in high school is because they just aren’t that bright. Some people are lazy because they are bright enough to think about the long term payoff that hard work yields.

Look at the sport teams at SIU, do they do better academically because they are smarter or is it the academic structure that all that extra money buys?

Prof X:
Football and men’s basket ball players tend not to fair well academically. Other athletes do have higher graduation rates than the norm for non-athletes. This likely because they do not have to have jobs; they know they will loss their scholarships if their grades go down; and they get free tutoring as you noted. Also they are “engaged” people, they at least know the value of hard work in one domain.

Since these are the type of students SIU is going to be hosting for the next 20 years, it might be time to take proactive steps to make the problem better.

Prof X:
We are, we will, it will make little difference. Of course there are border line students that can succeed with some extra help and a more structured setting. But, we really cannot raise people’s IQs at this stage in life. Little kids, toddlers, yes. But IQ is pretty much fixed by adulthood. (Except in old age when it may well decline.)

Eventually we will give out fake diplomas like so many high schools do. Ah, but we are already there. Just go to the mall, any mall, and ask the nice sales clerks what they majored in.

I know people who don't know how to bake, but my Mom taught me and gave me the recipes I needed to get going. I'm not sure that is much difference between baking and being a SIU student.

Prof X:
You think you can takeover for the chef at Tom’s? If you open a restaurant Peter, remind me not go there. If you open a school I'll just shoot myself.

A couple of thoughts -

I'm busy reaming about anything in my sight, but I'm optimistic about people and their potential. This professor?

Can you imagine accepting the fate of SIU if you were a tenure track professor or any other employee? SIU has been on this track for 20 years or more, when will people accept this for what it is? If you waste 5 years doing something or not doing it, you are still going to be 5 years older. Is anyone at SIU really trying to fix the basic problems that clearly exist? Why not try to do something?

Like a point guard on a basketball team, leadership is about making the people around you better. Forget "More Cowbell," what is needed is "More Leadership."

Your comments are welcome.


Anonymous said...


Thanks for highlighting my post.

A correction: The "are bright" in my second comment should have been "are not bright".

Clarification 1: I did not say and do not believe that most SIUC students are dumb (in bottom third of the U.S. IQ distribution) or that most of our degrees are worthless. But in both cases a substantial fraction are.

Clarification 2: No disrespect to your mother was intended.

Furthermore: Your notion that higher education involves little more than teaching someone to bake a few recipes typifies the disconnect between academics and policy makers. (Ask your dad how well his students have learned to "bake" algebra problems.)

Prof X

Anonymous said...

"...basket ball players tend not to fair well academically..."


One sentence, two errors - is X really a Prof. X?

If indeed he/she is, how very telling about SIU...

Ryan said...

If Prof. X was using Momma insults, I can understand perfectly why we aren't keeping up. Personnel has to improve across the board, including students, faculty, staff, and administration.

Peter in Carbondale said...

>> Personnel has to improve across the board, including students, faculty, staff, and administration.

I really like this thought.

Anonymous said...

Peter, did you see this AP report?

CARBONDALE, ILL. -Bowing to pressure from alumni, students, and a majority of teaching professors at Southern Illinois University, unnamed officials in the athletics department have announced that SIU would completely phase out all academic operations by the end of the 2010 school year in order to make athletics the school's No. 1 priority. "It's been clear for a while that SIU's mission is to provide the young men and women enrolled here with a world-class athletics program, and this is the best way to cut the fat and really focus on making us No. 1 every year," said a source in the athletics department who refused to give his name. "While it's certainly possible for an academic subsidiary to bring a certain amount of prestige to an athletic program, the national polls have made it that our non-athletic operations have become a major distraction." SIU's restructuring program will begin with the elimination of the College of Liberal Arts , effective October 15

Anonymous said...

That was originally meant for Florida State and was first printed in the Onion. You should have stated that.

I really do hope you get angry when Lowery's salary gets revealed, because if that's all the logic you have than your argument is very weak.

Peter in Carbondale said...

I'm very confused about the last comment. OK, the Onion yes. But, Lowery's salary? What are you talking about? What is very weak?

Context required.