Language is the universal thread that connects all human beings, and students should not be allowed to graduate from college unless they speak, write and listen well, said the president of the Carnegie Foundation.
Ernest L. Boyer spoke to an audience at Weber State College Thursday during the fifth National Undergraduate Conference.Boyer, of New Jersey, said a Carnegie study revealed that undergraduate students are leaving campuses without proper communication skills. He said institutes of high learning should prioritize language to help students think critically.
"Language is not just another subject," he said. "Language is what connects us all together. . . . Language is the centerpiece of learning."
Boyer suggested that colleges form a partnership with secondary schools so high school students can be better prepared for college.
He said to give students better language skills, schools and colleges should do away with multiple choice and true-false questions. He also said that schools should move away from competitive learning and on to cooperative learning.
"We should close the college doors and start over again," he said, referring to higher education curricula.
Boyer also said schools should emphasize education in the sciences. He said some students think water comes from a faucet and light comes from a switch.
He said that for a student to get a better understanding of the world, colleges and universities should blend general and specialized education.
Boyer said the quality of campus life concerns him, and he feels generations are moving apart from each other in this society.
Children in day care are encouraged to interact with each other, he said, and this creates a clique within the generations beginning from childhood and continuing into old age.
He encouraged students to interact with people who are both younger and older.
"There is something vital between the old and the young interacting," Boyer said. "It makes a whole community. . . . We are somehow all connected."