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Comments about ‘Timothy R. Clark: A new kind of university: Modular degrees for our children's needs’

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Published: Friday, May 9 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Liberal Today
Murray, UT

Yes, but won't focusing on STEM take away time in school for liberal/socialist indoctrination?

Macfarren
Dallas, TX

Dr. Clark, an author, consultant, and Fulbright Scholar at Oxford, was (far more than the average student) an blessed beneficiary of a liberal arts education. He of all people knows that the 'modular' education he describes is the exact underlying purpose of required core curriculum at all colleges, generally regardless of major specializations. While there is always room for improvement at every institution his article seems to be throwing the baby out with the bath water.

While technologies and marketplaces continue to evolve, the fixed needs for all of tomorrow's employees regardless of profession still continue to include: the ability to communicate well, the ability to analyze, the ability to work independently as well as collaborate, and the ability to adapt and develop new skills. A ha! That is precisely what a liberal arts education or a required core curriculum is designed to do. On top of that, add whatever specialty you desire.

This article seems to introduce a solution which is looking for a problem.

The real problem is not our college degree system, it is a national economy that has stalled due to the policies of our current presidential administration

Mr DL
Bel Air, MD

Universities today offer degrees such as a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Fine Arts. What we need is a Bachelor of Trades degree. This degree would require 4 years of combined instruction and apprenticeship experience. We could look at community colleges or Universities to offer the degrees, with majors in plumbing, HVAC, electronics, mechanics, maintenance, and telecommunications. Young men and women could hold their heads high as they completed a college degree that had marketable skills and a healthy starting salary.

Macfarren
Dallas, TX

@Mr DL

What you describe is a called a vocational school, which are perfectly fine if that is type of instruction you seek. And frankly, many plumbers make more than some degree holders. That aside, universities were never created just to certify someone as eligible for a specific trade.

Star Bright
Salt Lake City, Ut

I guess they won't be offering "Women studies" "Black studies, etc., etc. A nowhere degree!

Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah

Mr. Clark's opinion is frightening. His proposal would essentially destroy the concept of a liberal education. In doing so he mistakes things of secondary importance (making a living) for things of primary importance--what we live for. Would his modular STEM education help people think critically, appreciate poetry, love music, build relationships,plumb the depths of great literature and philosophy? It would not. His future university spells the end of civilization and the beginning of a society of techno-zombies.

marxist
Salt Lake City, UT

Re: Liberal Today "Yes, but won't focusing on STEM take away time in school for liberal/socialist indoctrination?" Good one!

Speaking as a Marxist I don't want to "indoctrinate" anybody, but I think some knowledge of economics is critical for all students. Such should include all of the threads in economics - neoclassical, monetarist, Keynesian, and MARXIAN.

But getting back to the writer's remarks, it's mostly hogwash. If we are going to reform education, let's go big time. Teach students how to organize their own enterprises. Teach them how to form cooperatives and worker owned and managed companies. In a worker managed enterprise the workers can figure out what knowledges they need, rather than have capital and ordinary B-schools tell them.

I am talking about creating a whole new set of skills in workers/students - the ability to spontaneously organize to suit themselves. Couple that with STEM and you see people with real POWER over their own lives.

Dr. Thom
Long Beach, CA

But in the meantime, colleges and universities hire one full-time professor for every three PT faculty and pays them low wages, no benefits, no meaningful participation in departments or committees, no job security and, oh yea contracted semester by semester. Before rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, lets do something about the sinking ship

Macfarren
Dallas, TX

I just find it ironic that the author is speaking against the very education he received. How many reading this article went to Oxford? I would like to find out what he feels helped him find his own success in life that he now enjoys. Was it his liberal-arts based education, his time as a NCAA football player, or something else? Certainly it wasn't the modular, vocational-certification model he describes.

Don't be so quick in life to say, "this didn't apply to me but should work for everybody else," or the opposite, "this did work for me and therefore should also work for everyone else."

Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA

I read the article twice to make sure I wasn't misunderstanding him. As other people here have pointed out this idea is hardly new. Its been implemented and it works. If you pursue a liberal arts education you are not likely to encounter a lot of vocational training but you would think the author would realize that. So much for a degree from Oxford.

Incite Full
Layton, UT

Really this is just High School ad infinitum. What's he's really stating is that if our current High Schools no longer afford graduates basic lifeskills, enough to make a basic living and stay employed, then we should push those skills and the same sort of prepackaged educational nuggets up the line to University level and beyond.

The problem with this approach is that educators have already lost touch at the High School level as to what makes a student ready to contribute to society. Can they really expect to do any better at a higher level?

I personally think if you want to help kids become employable, give them courses in things like "Conflict Resolution", "Personal Finance", "Hard Work", "Patience", "Volunteerism" and "Moral Behavior" to start...

Shawnm750
West Jordan, UT

To me this sounds like a degree program for those who don't want to choose a profession. As others have already pointed out, we have schools like this already. What the author's proposing is giving people a piece of paper certifying that they can do what most of them probably already know how to do.

But in my opinion, the real problem he's identifying is not academic, it's societal. The up-and-coming generation of workers, who often are very skilled technically, lack any kind of accreditation for their skills; yet the people hiring these workers still look for this when hiring new employees.

The danger I see in not steering more people towards the STEM programs is that we'll have fewer people filling those professions which require highly specialized and extensive training.

Don Bugg
Prince Frederick, MD

I'd like to see an educational system that ensures most if not all students are qualified for a trade--mechanics, hairdressing, welding, electrical wiring, etc.--regardless of whether they go on to university studies.

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