I’ve been sick with a cold for a couple of days. Since I don’t have a TV that means I’ve spent a lot of time wandering around various blogs and YouTube. I stumbled on this video, A Vision of Students Today, from Andrew Gelman’s statistical modeling blog.
The video was produced as a class project for a cultural anthropology class Kansas State University. The original post introducing the video is worth a read, as well as a follow-up post, both written by the professor of the class.
A lot of the comments, both on YouTube and on the place of origin for the video, the Digital Ethnography blog, mediatedcultures.net, seem to spin the video into a students versus teachers/professors or technology versus anti-technology dichotomy. But I don’t think that’s what’s being portrayed here. I tend to take it for what it is and that’s an expression of a frustration the students see in the education they’re receiving, and in many instances, they themselves are paying for. I don’t see it as anything particularly new. Students have been complaining about the relevancy of their education for, I’m sure, a long time; at least as long as I’ve taken notice. Indeed, if I didn’t question what I was learning as an undergraduate I would have been the engineer I always wanted to be. Instead, I learned there are more answers and more interesting questions out there than what I was seeing in the classroom. And that’s a lesson I’m still learning 15 years out of college.
That’s not to say that their frustration is invalid. I think questioning what you’re getting out of life is healthy. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not going to college right after high school. If there are too many questions, too many doubts, then maybe committing 4+ years of your life and tens of thousands of dollars just isn’t for you.