Score another one for capitalism and . . . Wal-Mart

Professor Dutch offers three excellent pieces

It's a new year in Higher Education. A good time to revisit--first linked to here on 2/3/03--Professor Steven Dutch's "Top Ten No Sympathy Lines". It's really difficult to pick a favorite; I'd have to declare a two-way tie:

Do You Give Out a Study Guide?

Hmm. The textbook simplifies a vast amount of material, then I simplify it more in lecture. Then you want me to extract the most important ten per cent of that and put it on a study guide, so if you know most of it you can get an A.

So what you're saying is the cutoff grade for an A should be 10%, right? . . .

Exams Don't Reflect Real Life

Some critics of education have said that examinations are unrealistic; that nobody on the job would ever be evaluated without knowing when the evaluation would be conducted and what would be on the evaluation.

Sure. When Rudy Giuliani took office as mayor of New York, someone told him "On September 11, 2001, terrorists will fly airplanes into the World Trade Center, and you will be judged on how effectively you cope."

Examinations are unrealistic. On the job evaluations where people are told in advance when they will be evaluated and exactly what will be covered are even more unrealistic. They're utterly artificial, carefully neutered attempts to be as fair as possible. The most meaningful evaluations in life are:

  • Completely unexpected.
  • Totally comprehensive. Absolutely everything you ever learned could be included.
  • Include material you never studied and maybe never even heard of.

When you skid on an icy road, nobody will listen when you complain it's unfair because you weren't warned in advance, had no experience with winter driving and had never been taught how to cope with a skid.

But they're all good. Read the whole thing.

And while you're there, you might also want to read Professor Dutch's other excellent pieces including, "Why People Don't Use Mass Transit" and "How to Go Out of Business".