Dumb and Dumber

It's pretty appalling -- sad, actually -- to read about a university that's eliminating the entrance exam to its journalism school because it's too hard. The thought being, fewer students would be admitted and it's too costly to run a state-funded program that way. So the university decided to shelve it and give up the chance at a higher accreditation.

And then there's Loyola Law School Los Angeles, which according to a recent article in the New York Times is inflating its grades so its students look more attractive in a competitive job market. Are you kidding me? It also cited Golden Gate University San Francisco, which "deliberately changed (its) grading systems to make (it) more lenient."

I think you get the idea. To me, it sounds crazy. "It's insanity," says professor Marilee Bresciani of San Diego State University, where she specializes in teaching leadership in higher education. And we will all suffer for it as these compromises are made. "We tend to look at higher education as a cost, not as an investment. The money is not being put out to fund innovative learning and creativity. The emphasis is on exams and scores in order to compete. But that's a different kind of learning -- i.e. memorization and regurgitation, not creative thinking or innovation or any kind of deep learning."

So in other words, when we cut costs, we don't think about how it affects the "quality" of learning. We've just pared it down to just the basics, she says, and after a while you can only get so far with just the basics and memorization.

"Tests are not the best way to measure intelligence. It's a management tool. You should never use one form of data collection to come to a conclusion," adds Bresciani.

I can understand what she means -- that of course it makes sense that in these hard times we need the creative thinkers to come up with the ideas to deal with a different way of living and learning with less. It's a culture that Bresciani taught. I say that in the past tense because that course was eliminated due to budget cuts.

So now, Bresciani is working this summer to produce the course with what few resources she has, including her own time, to offer them on podcasts -- for free!

Now that's creative.

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