A friend and colleague passed along a Gizmodo article today entitled “What exactly is a doctorate?” First, take a second to look it over, and make sure you sift through the comments, as well, because I think they’re important to the point I want to make.
I’ll begin by acknowledging three important things. First, the writer (Dr. Matt Might of the University of Utah) is intending a humorous take on an institution that’s pure arcana to the average American non-PhD. Heck, it can be pretty arcane to those who have PhDs (or are in the process of earning them). Since he prefaces the piece by saying this is something he uses on his own doc students every year, it’s safe to assume that it’s not intended as a body slam against education. And humor is valuable – we never get anywhere worth going by taking ourselves too seriously.
Second, It’s hard to deny that some PhDs are laboring away to very little effect. Read more
Let’s begin with a brief Q&A with America.
Q: Let’s say you’re sick with a potentially deadly disease. Who do you want for a doctor?
A: The smartest, most experienced and highly qualified expert in the field.
Q: You’re looking to invest your life savings. Who do you trust to handle your money?
A: The brightest, most agile financial mind I can find.
Q: You’ve been selected to participate in a “private citizens in space” program. Who do you want in charge of building the rocket? Read more
In years to come, it seems likely that the ongoing civil suit brought against the University of Colorado by former professor Ward Churchill will provide students in many law classes with a lively case study to debate. If you aren’t already familiar with the details of the clusterfuck story, you can catch up at the NY Times and Boulder Daily Camera. If, at that point, you still haven’t slaked your thirst for data on all things Ward, you can keep on Googling here.
Buff U is pointing to all manner of irregularities in Churchill’s scholarship, asserting that he was fired for plagiarism. Ward’s attorneys have another theory: Read more
I come from a family background that was conflicted on the question of education. On the one hand, my grandparents (who raised me from the time I was three) realized that whatever hope I was to have of a better life than they’d had hinged on school. As such, there was never a moment in my life, once I was old enough to grasp the concept of what school was, when I didn’t simply assume that I’d go to college.
Growing up, I understood that learning came first. My grandmother taught me to read when I was four, and by the time I entered first grade I was reading on the fourth grade level, at least. My grandfather taught me math, and when I was five I could do fairly complicated problem strings that included long division. If there was homework to do, that came before play, and it was made clear that if my grades ever slipped, I wouldn’t be allowed to play sports at all. If I made an A they were happy. If I made an A- they were rather pointed in wanting to know what had gone wrong. Bs were unacceptable, and if I’d made a C I simply wouldn’t have gone home. Read more