Higher Education - How can we make it suck a little less?

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  • hippofanthippofant ティンク Registered User regular
    Deebaser wrote:
    Honestly, you'd probably be better off going to trade school and picking up a library card.

    Let me know how the weather is down there at the bottom rung of the social ladder. It doesn't matter if you make $60K being a plumber. Your still a damn plumber who fixes clogged bathrooms and other messes. Compare that to the social standing of doing something that doesn't involve going to other people's bathrooms? I'd like my higher rung and laugh.

    Sorry, I was just raised better than to look down on someone earning an honest living. I don't care if they're a plumber, janitor, or admin assistant.

    Social standings are a fact of life. Denying that is like living in a fantasy.

    I'm really going to need you to back this up in some way. In what way do social standings exist in a modernized western country, that aren't purely economic divisions? There aren't really a lot that I can think of. There's a non-negligible amount of blue collar workers who make more than white collar workers, and I think you'd be hard pressed to find a distinction between them that isn't just how tired they are at the end of the day.

    Uh what? Men and women? Blacks and whites? Politicians and others? Nobel laureates and others? Celebrities and others?

    Am I misunderstanding what "social standing" means?

  • DanWeinoDanWeino Registered User regular
    However, the issue with liberal arts is that very few of those people are trained for that either. The main distinction I've found is that while engineers deal with complicated concepts and can't manage to simplify and clarify them, liberal arts people tend to be trained to complicate and obfuscate, in order to make their ideas sound more complicated than they are.

    So much truth in that. BA in History was basically "how to do 2 hours work a week and pass". I wrote about Jurassic Park once in my first year because I couldn't actually be bothered to watch a relevant film. Passed... barely.


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  • SyrdonSyrdon Registered User regular
    On the subject of communicating clearly, there are some bits of the hard sciences the are just hard to be clear about. Everyone hears about E = mc^2, its relatively rare that you see mention that this formula is only correct if you've moving at the same speed and in the same direction as the object that's losing mass. If you're not, then the formula gets more complicated (and I don't think the forum supports square roots).

    There are some cases where the only way to be clear about what you're saying is to either assume the other person has a lot of knowledge, or to be wrong (try to explain calculus without referencing any math beyond fractions if you don't believe me. You're allowed to use any terms that you define. Points off if your audience gets bored). In my experience, the people that go into the hard sciences aren't the sort that are willing to be wrong, which means they have to assume you have (and recall) at least half a degree in physics to be clear. When the assumption is wrong, their meaning gets lost.

  • SageinaRageSageinaRage Registered User regular
    hippofant wrote:
    I'm really going to need you to back this up in some way. In what way do social standings exist in a modernized western country, that aren't purely economic divisions? There aren't really a lot that I can think of. There's a non-negligible amount of blue collar workers who make more than white collar workers, and I think you'd be hard pressed to find a distinction between them that isn't just how tired they are at the end of the day.

    Uh what? Men and women? Blacks and whites? Politicians and others? Nobel laureates and others? Celebrities and others?

    Am I misunderstanding what "social standing" means?

    I think you are. Which of these is supposed to be 'social standing'? Because none of them really apply. The first two are more about discrimination than social standing (and also aren't related to job), politicians by the nature of their job publicize themselves constantly, and have just as many bad connotations as good, nobel laureates are not in any way a social group, and celebrities are like pop culture versions of politicians.

    I don't really count 'fame' as 'social standing'. They're entirely different beasts. There's only one profession that I'd say has higher social standing than any other, and that's doctor (and I say that as a future lawyer).

    Well, maybe President, but that's a special case.

  • DemerdarDemerdar Registered User regular
    Syrdon wrote:
    On the subject of communicating clearly, there are some bits of the hard sciences the are just hard to be clear about. Everyone hears about E = mc^2, its relatively rare that you see mention that this formula is only correct if you've moving at the same speed and in the same direction as the object that's losing mass. If you're not, then the formula gets more complicated (and I don't think the forum supports square roots).

    There are some cases where the only way to be clear about what you're saying is to either assume the other person has a lot of knowledge, or to be wrong (try to explain calculus without referencing any math beyond fractions if you don't believe me. You're allowed to use any terms that you define. Points off if your audience gets bored). In my experience, the people that go into the hard sciences aren't the sort that are willing to be wrong, which means they have to assume you have (and recall) at least half a degree in physics to be clear. When the assumption is wrong, their meaning gets lost.

    This is true. You have to make those assumptions anyway, otherwise you would have to write a whole book on the subject in order to add in your 20 "new" pages of research.

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  • SyrdonSyrdon Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Demerdar wrote:
    This is true. You have to make those assumptions anyway, otherwise you would have to write a whole book on the subject in order to add in your 20 "new" pages of research.
    That's exactly the problem though. If you wanted to talk about that new research to a family member who isn't familiar with the subject you have your choice of being wrong (but close), effectively teaching them that book, speak gibberish, or being god's gift to communication.

    Most of the scientists/engineers I know have been doing what they do for long enough that they no longer realize that they've actually managed to pick a and c when they only meant to get a, because of how much background is needed to understand the subject. So they end up looking like they're incapable of communicating when they were simply forgetting how many years of intensive learning they had to go through.

    Syrdon on
  • devCharlesdevCharles Registered User regular
    Grouping all hard science and liberal arts people as being mutually exclusive in terms of their ability to what they pick as a major seems like a fallacy. I knew quite a few engineers that would have preferred being in the liberal arts, but they liked the idea of a more secure and higher paying position out of college more. I'm sure there are some liberal arts students that could have gone into engineering if, and this usually seemed like the main barrier to me, they had math and science teachers in high school that had better catered to the way they learn.

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  • hippofanthippofant ティンク Registered User regular
    hippofant wrote:
    I'm really going to need you to back this up in some way. In what way do social standings exist in a modernized western country, that aren't purely economic divisions? There aren't really a lot that I can think of. There's a non-negligible amount of blue collar workers who make more than white collar workers, and I think you'd be hard pressed to find a distinction between them that isn't just how tired they are at the end of the day.

    Uh what? Men and women? Blacks and whites? Politicians and others? Nobel laureates and others? Celebrities and others?

    Am I misunderstanding what "social standing" means?

    I think you are. Which of these is supposed to be 'social standing'? Because none of them really apply. The first two are more about discrimination than social standing (and also aren't related to job), politicians by the nature of their job publicize themselves constantly, and have just as many bad connotations as good, nobel laureates are not in any way a social group, and celebrities are like pop culture versions of politicians.

    I don't really count 'fame' as 'social standing'. They're entirely different beasts. There's only one profession that I'd say has higher social standing than any other, and that's doctor (and I say that as a future lawyer).

    Well, maybe President, but that's a special case.

    Social standing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_status

    I don't know how you can split apart discrimination and social standing. If you're discriminated against, then your social standing is low; you are not respected or honored in your society. Some politicians make less money than others, yet still garner much respect and prestige for their work. Scientists might not make much money but can be well-respected. There's no stipulation that a social standing has to be associated with a job or a social group; individuals can have social standings in and of themselves.

    It seems to me you're just defining things in a funky way to make your statement true. What the hell is a social standing, in your definition?

  • SavdecSavdec Registered User
    edited July 2011
    There's a really weird belief that keeps popping up in this thread that the people who major in liberal arts are lazy people. This is really, really not true. A liberal arts major in English or Philosophy or History CAN have just as rigorous an education as an engineering student. The caveat is that liberal arts student has to be willing to work hard and select for herself the most challenging and wide-ranging curriculum they can find, in addition to performing any extra-curricular activities. It's (sadly) really easy for someone to not challenge themselves and go through their education just go get by.

    And to address what someone said above: If a liberal arts major comes out of their four years unable to articulate themselves well, then they are--in my mind--partial failures.

    How would I start to fix this? I'd start by changing the way Gen-Eds work. More schools should adopt the intense core classes like the stuff they offer at U-chi or Columbia. In my Freshman year, I took three bullshit sciences to get out of those credits. I regret that; I didn't learn anything. It was a waste of time for everyone involved.

    (edit: had a shatner comma. how embarrassing.

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  • SageinaRageSageinaRage Registered User regular
    hippofant wrote:
    Social standing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_status

    I don't know how you can split apart discrimination and social standing. If you're discriminated against, then your social standing is low; you are not respected or honored in your society. Some politicians make less money than others, yet still garner much respect and prestige for their work. Scientists might not make much money but can be well-respected. There's no stipulation that a social standing has to be associated with a job or a social group; individuals can have social standings in and of themselves.

    It seems to me you're just defining things in a funky way to make your statement true. What the hell is a social standing, in your definition?

    Ok, in an ironic twist, I'm going to go over some of those base assumptions that people don't realize others aren't considering. We're in the Higher Education thread, talking about Social Standings as it related to Employment. I am, as a general rule, concerned with social status derived from and relating to classes of people, usually as relates to employment. What I'm not talking about is the social status of individuals, either for their inherent characteristics such as race or gender, for their individual and heroic accomplishments, or anything else about people individually.

    Let's take a look at the quote which set this going:
    Let me know how the weather is down there at the bottom rung of the social ladder. It doesn't matter if you make $60K being a plumber. Your still a damn plumber who fixes clogged bathrooms and other messes. Compare that to the social standing of doing something that doesn't involve going to other people's bathrooms? I'd like my higher rung and laugh.

    The implication here is that intrinsic to a job is a 'social status' which is apart from the individual, but tied to the job. Whether the person is a good person or not, white, black, female, male, skilled and hardworking or shiftless and lazy, these are all irrelevant. This is the notion that all office workers are more respected than all plumbers just because they are all office workers.

    So yes, while individuals can have social status, at no point did I mean to imply anything about them. If you have a better term which means only the social standing of faceless groups of people instead of discrete individuals, then please let me know and I'll use that.

  • mrt144mrt144 King of the Numbernames Registered User regular
    Syrdon wrote:
    mrt144 wrote:
    Demerdar wrote:

    I guess there are different levels of "engineer". I guess I have a very hard time believing that an engineer could keep a job with such terrible writing as you describe. I guess that just makes me an even more awesome engineer.

    These guys weren't hired for their writing abilities. They were hired because they could build nuclear reactors.
    Are these PhDs? How do you even write and defend a thesis without a modicum of communication skills?
    [edit]Shorter answer: in order to understand a nuclear engineer, you must already be an nuclear engineer. Also crazy, but you covered that back when you decided that you wanted to be a nuclear engineer[/edit]Short answer: In that particular field, having your design and supporting math be absolutely flawless is more important than everything else. Its not in any way acceptable to have a part with any sort of an identifiable design flaw, and only barely acceptable to have a part where a flaw eventually comes up 50 years down the line in 1% of the parts. When that's the standard, you spend all your time working on the design and the math, and the writing bits are something you do in 20 minutes.

    They at least have masters and likely the equivalent of PHDs. But their equivalent of a defense will look nothing like defending an english thesis.

    I'll have to ask me friend about this. He got his PhD from MIT in Nuclear Something or Other, designing nuclear reactors.

  • KistraKistra Registered User regular
    I think a very important skill that is normally learned during the course of a PhD
    Syrdon wrote:
    mrt144 wrote:
    Demerdar wrote:

    I guess there are different levels of "engineer". I guess I have a very hard time believing that an engineer could keep a job with such terrible writing as you describe. I guess that just makes me an even more awesome engineer.

    These guys weren't hired for their writing abilities. They were hired because they could build nuclear reactors.
    Are these PhDs? How do you even write and defend a thesis without a modicum of communication skills?
    [edit]Shorter answer: in order to understand a nuclear engineer, you must already be an nuclear engineer. Also crazy, but you covered that back when you decided that you wanted to be a nuclear engineer[/edit]Short answer: In that particular field, having your design and supporting math be absolutely flawless is more important than everything else. Its not in any way acceptable to have a part with any sort of an identifiable design flaw, and only barely acceptable to have a part where a flaw eventually comes up 50 years down the line in 1% of the parts. When that's the standard, you spend all your time working on the design and the math, and the writing bits are something you do in 20 minutes.

    They at least have masters and likely the equivalent of PHDs. But their equivalent of a defense will look nothing like defending an english thesis.

    My experience with hard science PhD defenses is that even the defense is a dumbed down version of your research. You only have an hour public defense and an hour or two private. It is impossible to present a PhD's worth of research in that amount of time. The real "test" is convincing your committee that you are ready to defend by meeting with them for hours and hours over the course of your project and getting some publications. The defense is just sort of the ending formality where you put together a pretty show out of the best data that you have with some nice animations and then discuss the "big picture" questions in your field with some professors.

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  • VishNubVishNub Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Syrdon wrote:
    Demerdar wrote:
    This is true. You have to make those assumptions anyway, otherwise you would have to write a whole book on the subject in order to add in your 20 "new" pages of research.
    That's exactly the problem though. If you wanted to talk about that new research to a family member who isn't familiar with the subject you have your choice of being wrong (but close), effectively teaching them that book, speak gibberish, or being god's gift to communication.

    Most of the scientists/engineers I know have been doing what they do for long enough that they no longer realize that they've actually managed to pick a and c when they only meant to get a, because of how much background is needed to understand the subject. So they end up looking like they're incapable of communicating when they were simply forgetting how many years of intensive learning they had to go through.

    I agree entirely with this. Sometimes it's really not possible to put things in simple terms, especially while maintaining an acceptable level of accuracy. God's various gifts excepted, of course.

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  • L|amaL|ama Registered User regular
    Syrdon wrote:
    I'm really going to need you to back this up in some way. In what way do social standings exist in a modernized western country, that aren't purely economic divisions? There aren't really a lot that I can think of. There's a non-negligible amount of blue collar workers who make more than white collar workers, and I think you'd be hard pressed to find a distinction between them that isn't just how tired they are at the end of the day.
    There is a cultural stigma associated with blue collar work in the US for some reason. I can only assume its because of the folks who spent 4-8 years in school so they could work for an idiot, get paid less and work longer hours are jealous of the guy whose boss doesn't have the time required to micromanage their work, gets paid more and works fewer hours.

    edit: on the subject of communicating clearly, there are some bits of the hard sciences the are just hard to be clear about. Everyone hears about E = mc^2, its relatively rare that you see mention that this formula is only correct if you've moving at the same speed and in the same direction as the object that's losing mass. If you're not, then the formula gets more complicated (and I don't think the forum supports square roots).

    There are some cases where the only way to be clear about what you're saying is to either assume the other person has a lot of knowledge, or to be wrong (try to explain calculus without referencing any math beyond fractions if you don't believe me. You're allowed to use any terms that you define. Points off if your audience gets bored). In my experience, the people that go into the hard sciences aren't the sort that are willing to be wrong, which means they have to assume you have (and recall) at least half a degree in physics to be clear. When the assumption is wrong, their meaning gets lost.

    That's definitely true, but I think a big thing is also that people tend to think about maths and physics problems in vastly different ways. Feynman, as usual, explains it excellently:



    When I try and ask or tell someone how to do a homework problem, I'm basically taking half my mental framework for explaining it and assuming the rest. Being aware of this has made a huge difference in being able to understand why people don't understand me when I'm trying to explain something.

  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    VishNub wrote:
    As for whither side CS belongs on... depends on the uni. Where I went, CS was in the Math faculty; where I am, CS is in the Arts and Science faculty. The difference is very noticeable, but I'll admit that in my first two years, I did not work nearly as hard as the engineers did (I joked you could tell who was an engineer based on if he was doing homework when you saw him). In third and fourth year though, that was when we started sleeping every other night camped out in front of our computers....

    On a side note, at my university Computer Science fell under College of Engineering, which seemed a sensible place for it.

  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    Demerdar wrote:
    :-(( writing reports/documentation, researching, and expressing ideas are among my top talents as a computer scientist whose current job title is Engineer/Scientist.

    I've worked with engineers. You guys are very, very special. Clear, concise prose was not one of their strong points, and they were all native English speakers.

    You want a fun job, work as an editor on a job where you do not have the security clearance to edit the material you were hired to edit for engineers who cannot write a complete, understandable sentence to save their lives.

    I guess there are different levels of "engineer". I guess I have a very hard time believing that an engineer could keep a job with such terrible writing as you describe. I guess that just makes me an even more awesome engineer.

    Could be an age thing to. The reason Engineering emphasizes communication and group work so much these days, and the reason goodish English marks are often a requirement to get in, is because there were alot of issues in the past with Engineers being absolute shit at this sort of thing.

  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    VishNub wrote:
    Syrdon wrote:
    Demerdar wrote:
    This is true. You have to make those assumptions anyway, otherwise you would have to write a whole book on the subject in order to add in your 20 "new" pages of research.
    That's exactly the problem though. If you wanted to talk about that new research to a family member who isn't familiar with the subject you have your choice of being wrong (but close), effectively teaching them that book, speak gibberish, or being god's gift to communication.

    Most of the scientists/engineers I know have been doing what they do for long enough that they no longer realize that they've actually managed to pick a and c when they only meant to get a, because of how much background is needed to understand the subject. So they end up looking like they're incapable of communicating when they were simply forgetting how many years of intensive learning they had to go through.

    I agree entirely with this. Sometimes it's really not possible to put things in simple terms, especially while maintaining an acceptable level of accuracy. God's various gifts excepted, of course.

    Acceptable to whom?

  • L|amaL|ama Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    The person doing the explaining, generally. I could try and explain what I know about quantum mechanics to you in half an hour, but I would probably be pretty frustrated afterwards.

    edit: Ah shit I just spent an hour watching feynman vids and reading quotes.

    L|ama on
  • PopeTiberiiPopeTiberii Registered User
    L|ama wrote:
    edit: Ah shit I just spent an hour watching feynman vids and reading quotes.

    I think I do this at least once a month. It's just so easy to sit back and watch that man talk.

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  • LucidLucid Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    liberal arts people tend to be trained to complicate and obfuscate, in order to make their ideas sound more complicated than they are. Not that the people are in any way dumb or bad communicators, but clarity of thought, and the ability to communicate and educate, is not really in the curriculum

    This is false.

    These are in fact some of the primary and introductory aspects of liberal arts education.

    Lucid on
  • override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Wait computer scientists don't research things?

    So the next time I have to do a research paper or do a feasibility study for project X I can say "nope, we don't do that"?

    override367 on
  • TheOrangeTheOrange Registered User regular
    This somehow reminds me of World of Warcraft, see, in that world, a dungon requires 350 item level gear, but as the avrage
    Wait computer scientists don't research things?

    So the next time I have to do a research paper or do a feasibility study for project X I can say "nope, we don't do that"?

    Not to mention that computer science is deeply ingrained in discreet math and number theory, which are massive research fields.

  • SageinaRageSageinaRage Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Lucid wrote:
    liberal arts people tend to be trained to complicate and obfuscate, in order to make their ideas sound more complicated than they are. Not that the people are in any way dumb or bad communicators, but clarity of thought, and the ability to communicate and educate, is not really in the curriculum

    This is false.

    These are in fact some of the primary and introductory aspects of liberal arts education.

    How? None of the liberal arts classes I've ever taken (sociology, philosophy, history, italian renaissance drama, film classes, etc) rewarded simplicity or clarity of thought. All of the professors I ever had rewarded people who tried to delve deeply into the material and find a complex insight. We were never instructed on synthesizing ideas more clearly, only on finding and generating more complex ideas.

    Maybe my experience was different, as I went to a school dominated by engineers and scientists, and the liberal arts teachers learned to take what they can get.

    edit::
    Also, at my school CS was in the college of computing, which seemed to make sense.

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  • joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Class Traitor Smoke-filled roomRegistered User regular
    Chemistry will be the death of me, I'm sure of it. All I have left in the semester is Equilibrium and Electrochemistry, but on the other hand, I still have Equilibrium and Electrochemistry to go

  • LilnoobsLilnoobs Alpha Queue Registered User regular
    Lucid wrote:
    liberal arts people tend to be trained to complicate and obfuscate, in order to make their ideas sound more complicated than they are. Not that the people are in any way dumb or bad communicators, but clarity of thought, and the ability to communicate and educate, is not really in the curriculum

    This is false.

    These are in fact some of the primary and introductory aspects of liberal arts education.

    How? None of the liberal arts classes I've ever taken (sociology, philosophy, history, italian renaissance drama, film classes, etc) rewarded simplicity or clarity of thought. All of the professors I ever had rewarded people who tried to delve deeply into the material and find a complex insight. We were never instructed on synthesizing ideas more clearly, only on finding and generating more complex ideas.

    Maybe my experience was different, as I went to a school dominated by engineers and scientists, and the liberal arts teachers learned to take what they can get.

    edit::
    Also, at my school CS was in the college of computing, which seemed to make sense.

    I think there's a problem of definitions going on here. What does it mean for a thought to be "simple"? How do you define "clarity"?
    Is the idea "apples are red" a simple and clear thought?

    But I do agree complication, delving, and generating complex ideas are important to a liberal arts education. But that's part of the education. The other part, I would argue, is taking those complications and eventually simplifying them down for a more general audience (much like the hard sciences).

    Equally, can't I say all the basic science courses I took really didn't teach anything but routine, measurements, and boring writing? Yes, that's part of it, but there's another part afterwards that I assume I learn further down the curriculum (publishable work, explaining concepts, designing machines) just like there's steps afterwards in a liberal education.

  • SageinaRageSageinaRage Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    If someone can tell/show me how that happens in a liberal arts education, that's pretty much all I want. I'm just saying that I'm not really seeing it. Published papers are rarely intended for the layman, they're intended for other experts. The papers that people write in their classes aren't read by laymen, they're read by professors. I've done enough english papers to know that published critiques are not exactly bastions of clear communication.
    But I do agree complication, delving, and generating complex ideas are important to a liberal arts education. But that's part of the education. The other part, I would argue, is taking those complications and eventually simplifying them down for a more general audience (much like the hard sciences).

    Equally, can't I say all the basic science courses I took really didn't teach anything but routine, measurements, and boring writing? Yes, that's part of it, but there's another part afterwards that I assume I learn further down the curriculum (publishable work, explaining concepts, designing machines) just like there's steps afterwards in a liberal education.

    I think you're just assuming that stage exists for both liberal arts and hard science degrees. It seems to me like both work towards the goal of generating a novel enough finding to write a paper to show to other experts.


    edit:: And in case it wasn't clear, I view a big part of 'clarity' as being able to explain concepts and ideas to someone not an expert on them already, ie laymen.

    SageinaRage on
  • NamrokNamrok Registered User regular
    I think we can all agree there are a lot of useless degrees out there, people who go through a good degree program but take useless classes, and generally the path to education is fraught with huge time/money sinks where you get nothing out of it no matter how much you put in.

    Best example I an think of is business majors. At the school I went to, business majors were the people who couldn't hack it in any other remotely serious major. It was full of the people who didn't know what they wanted to do. They were a joke.

    At the school my sister went to, for business mind you, the classes were rigorous and exhaustive. Their graduates highly sough after. Their business program, and the business program at my school were like night and day.

    But situation was the reverse for engineering, which was my major. My school was renowned for their engineering program. Her school? It was ok.

    So yeah, you goto a school renown for its liberal arts degrees and I'm sure you'll do fine. Goto a school known something else and get a liberal arts degree? Eh. Goto a school known for nothing and get a liberal arts degree? Welcome to useless town. Population you.

  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    L|ama wrote:
    The person doing the explaining, generally. I could try and explain what I know about quantum mechanics to you in half an hour, but I would probably be pretty frustrated afterwards.
    When you are explaining something, an "acceptable" explanation ought not be one that you are happy with but was not understood by the other party. Your criterion devolves to "I don't like explaining things to people outside my field".

    That isn't a terribly effective way to approach communication.

  • DemerdarDemerdar Registered User regular
    I guess it all boils down to the individual student. You get what you put into a college education, just merely showing up and getting a degree won't do much for you.

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  • southwicksouthwick Registered User regular
    Relevant to the forum, but maybe not to the current topic.

    Keller (near Ft. Worth) is going to start charging students to take the bus.

    http://www.kutnews.org/post/north-texas-school-district-charge-students-riding-bus

    -What a great way to keep the poor away from schools!

  • SeptusSeptus Registered User regular
    That's surprising, from a legal standpoint. I thought transportation was required to be provided to students for public schools. Perhaps it was only free by general practice.

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  • DemerdarDemerdar Registered User regular
    I mean, aren't tax payers already paying for those?

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  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    southwick wrote:
    Relevant to the forum, but maybe not to the current topic.

    Keller (near Ft. Worth) is going to start charging students to take the bus.

    http://www.kutnews.org/post/north-texas-school-district-charge-students-riding-bus

    -What a great way to keep the poor away from schools!

    This isn't Higher Ed. It is interesting, in a "surprise, local elections matter more than national ones!" sort of way, but it's also the wrong thread for that observation.

  • LilnoobsLilnoobs Alpha Queue Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    If someone can tell/show me how that happens in a liberal arts education, that's pretty much all I want. I'm just saying that I'm not really seeing it. Published papers are rarely intended for the layman, they're intended for other experts. The papers that people write in their classes aren't read by laymen, they're read by professors. I've done enough english papers to know that published critiques are not exactly bastions of clear communication.
    But I do agree complication, delving, and generating complex ideas are important to a liberal arts education. But that's part of the education. The other part, I would argue, is taking those complications and eventually simplifying them down for a more general audience (much like the hard sciences).

    Equally, can't I say all the basic science courses I took really didn't teach anything but routine, measurements, and boring writing? Yes, that's part of it, but there's another part afterwards that I assume I learn further down the curriculum (publishable work, explaining concepts, designing machines) just like there's steps afterwards in a liberal education.

    I think you're just assuming that stage exists for both liberal arts and hard science degrees. It seems to me like both work towards the goal of generating a novel enough finding to write a paper to show to other experts.


    edit:: And in case it wasn't clear, I view a big part of 'clarity' as being able to explain concepts and ideas to someone not an expert on them already, ie laymen.


    I don't think I'm understanding your question. Don't business majors write papers or create projects solely for their professors to read? What degree path isn't insular in academia? I don't see this as a liberal arts thing, but as a higher education thing. I don't know how to explain what "happens" in a liberal arts education. For my English major, I wrote papers, I read, I presented, and did various other odds and ends to earn my degree. I feel, though, this isn't what you're asking.

    Lilnoobs on
  • devCharlesdevCharles Registered User regular
    There's a really weird belief that keeps popping up in this thread that the people who major in liberal arts are lazy people. This is really, really not true. A liberal arts major in English or Philosophy or History CAN have just as rigorous an education as an engineering student. The caveat is that liberal arts student has to be willing to work hard and select for herself the most challenging and wide-ranging curriculum they can find, in addition to performing any extra-curricular activities. It's (sadly) really easy for someone to not challenge themselves and go through their education just go get by.

    I'd say there are lazy people in all majors, but it's substantially more difficult to be lazy in majors that straight up require more time. Can any degree program be as rigorous as engineering? Possibly. In terms of sheer quantity of time, I don't doubt it. I could see a liberal arts class require you to be able to have to just read and remember an absolute metric shitton. I just don't see why most liberal arts students would want to overly challenge themselves when the degree they get is the same as people who are going through the same major in a drunken haze, especially when the challenge of taking a wide range curriculum means they're taking classes they aren't exactly interested in, which seems to negate the whole reason of going into a potentially less lucrative field because you're looking to do something you want to enjoy.

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  • PhillisherePhillishere Registered User regular
    As someone who has a liberal arts b.a. (double English and history) and is currently taking sophomore/junior-level CS courses for work-related reasons, the honest answer is that the difficulty of the coursework depends with the professor. Upper level history courses were generally the hardest I've experienced - the reading and writing load was brutal. English courses do tend to be easier, but I had some shockingly hard professors in that major. CS was the most unpredictable, as the projects can go very quickly or take forever.

    The CS courses have had the widest range of teacher quality. I've had some of the best classroom instruction I have ever seen in a CS course, but I've also seen amazingly hostile and indifferent professors.

    If there is one trait that unites the worst teachers, it's that they play to the people who came with a lot of skills - working professionals, bedroom programmers, etc. I had a professor in an introductory level class that assumed the entire class already knew how to program and assigned the equivalent of programming puzzles. You could tell that he was shocked when the class finally revolted.

  • mrt144mrt144 King of the Numbernames Registered User regular
    devCharles wrote:
    There's a really weird belief that keeps popping up in this thread that the people who major in liberal arts are lazy people. This is really, really not true. A liberal arts major in English or Philosophy or History CAN have just as rigorous an education as an engineering student. The caveat is that liberal arts student has to be willing to work hard and select for herself the most challenging and wide-ranging curriculum they can find, in addition to performing any extra-curricular activities. It's (sadly) really easy for someone to not challenge themselves and go through their education just go get by.

    I'd say there are lazy people in all majors, but it's substantially more difficult to be lazy in majors that straight up require more time. Can any degree program be as rigorous as engineering? Possibly. In terms of sheer quantity of time, I don't doubt it. I could see a liberal arts class require you to be able to have to just read and remember an absolute metric shitton. I just don't see why most liberal arts students would want to overly challenge themselves when the degree they get is the same as people who are going through the same major in a drunken haze, especially when the challenge of taking a wide range curriculum means they're taking classes they aren't exactly interested in, which seems to negate the whole reason of going into a potentially less lucrative field because you're looking to do something you want to enjoy.

    The crazy thing isn't that it's easy or hard, it's that it costs the same as something that is potentially more demanding and more lucrative. You're not getting value while in college, you're not getting value after college.

  • enc0reenc0re Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Demerdar wrote:
    I mean, aren't tax payers already paying for those?

    A millage increase was voted down (56% no). The school district says without the hike, there isn't enough money.

    enc0re on
  • hippofanthippofant ティンク Registered User regular
    As someone who has a liberal arts b.a. (double English and history) and is currently taking sophomore/junior-level CS courses for work-related reasons, the honest answer is that the difficulty of the coursework depends with the professor. Upper level history courses were generally the hardest I've experienced - the reading and writing load was brutal. English courses do tend to be easier, but I had some shockingly hard professors in that major. CS was the most unpredictable, as the projects can go very quickly or take forever.

    The CS courses have had the widest range of teacher quality. I've had some of the best classroom instruction I have ever seen in a CS course, but I've also seen amazingly hostile and indifferent professors.

    If there is one trait that unites the worst teachers, it's that they play to the people who came with a lot of skills - working professionals, bedroom programmers, etc. I had a professor in an introductory level class that assumed the entire class already knew how to program and assigned the equivalent of programming puzzles. You could tell that he was shocked when the class finally revolted.

    On this CS aside, CS education, in general, is a clusterfuck. High school CS students here do programming basically equivalent to first-year CS, or even harder depending on the school. One grade 12 student I was tutoring in computer science was working with data structures and algorithms that I'd guesstimate to be roughly equivalent to second-year CS. But admission to CS programs don't require any high school CS credits - partially because they're relatively new programs that aren't universally offered. The rates at which CS programs are offered in high school are rather low, particularly in the United States where they can be considered pathetic. For 2010 in Georgia, compared to the number of students who took AP Calculus, fewer than 10% took AP CS; this means that first-year CS is mired in introductory material, and has been for years even as the field itself becomes ever more complex. Furthermore, since computing and the actual SCIENCE of computers are merged together in public perception, this means that first-year CS has some of the lowest retention rates of all first-year programs.

    Many universities have responded to this by introducing graduated entries into CS programs, depending on your prior skill level, as well as introducing a plethora of "CS for scientists", "CS for mathematicians", "CS for economists" etc, courses. But ultimately, I believe the problem is structural. First-year CS is too broad a tent; tries to do too much with too little. What CS education really needs is a holistic overhaul and a long-term reframing of societal expectations.

    Me? I was bored out of my mind in first year CS. "You have a robot that can only turn right. You need it to turn left! How do you do it?"

  • LucidLucid Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    Lucid wrote:
    liberal arts people tend to be trained to complicate and obfuscate, in order to make their ideas sound more complicated than they are. Not that the people are in any way dumb or bad communicators, but clarity of thought, and the ability to communicate and educate, is not really in the curriculum

    This is false.

    These are in fact some of the primary and introductory aspects of liberal arts education.

    How? None of the liberal arts classes I've ever taken (sociology, philosophy, history, italian renaissance drama, film classes, etc) rewarded simplicity or clarity of thought. All of the professors I ever had rewarded people who tried to delve deeply into the material and find a complex insight. We were never instructed on synthesizing ideas more clearly, only on finding and generating more complex ideas.

    Maybe my experience was different, as I went to a school dominated by engineers and scientists, and the liberal arts teachers learned to take what they can get.

    edit::
    Also, at my school CS was in the college of computing, which seemed to make sense.

    Every intro professor I've ever encountered has always stressed the ability and necessity of using clarity, efficiency, etc when writing papers or other assigned material. Though some do so less than others(some just expect you to realize clarity already). This is encouraged at the same time as producing complex ideas, which is not something that is not mutually exclusive to clarity. That's sort of one of the foundations of liberal arts, learning to express complex thoughts and ideas in a form that is concise(as possible) and understandable. I personally remember getting dinged for presenting complex ideas, but not being clear enough in presenting them in a couple of papers.
    Published papers are rarely intended for the layman, they're intended for other experts. The papers that people write in their classes aren't read by laymen, they're read by professors. I've done enough english papers to know that published critiques are not exactly bastions of clear communication.

    Published papers come into factor in higher level, likely graduate level and beyond. The not being written for laymen aspect is true of pretty much any field of study once you get to these levels. Also, not being clear to a layman doesn't necessarily presuppose a lack of clarity.

    I've even been to classes where professors vocally expressed the idea that people shouldn't think of writing their papers specifically for the professor, and more for a general audience. Or at least to think of it that way when writing.

    Lucid on
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