Phi Beta Cons

Boo Hoo — STEM Classes Haven’t Inflated Grades

This story in the Cornell Daily Sun notes that professors in STEM classes there have not given in to the widespread student preference for easy grading. Consequently, more students drop out and have to search for easier majors. One student is quoted as saying, “I wish my classes were more supportive instead of being so difficult.”

There’s the bane of American education. Students are led to believe that it’s not up to them to adjust to reality, but that reality must adjust to them. If chemistry is hard, it isn’t up to the student to overcome the difficulties; it’s up to the professor to make it easier for him.

We also get the usual line about the supposed need to “diversify” STEM faculty to have more “role models.” Prof. Ronald Ehrenberg says “We want the best people regardless of their race or gender, but we also want people to serve as role models.” If a college student is serious about learning any of these disciplines, the “role model” should be anyone who has already mastered the field, without regard to the professor’s personal characteristics. And if we were to take seriously the notion that students won’t learn as well if taught by someone who is “different,” then every “diversity” move is certain to make learning worse for some students. Hire a wise Latina chemistry prof and that’s bad for whites, Asians, blacks, and men, right?

Shouldn’t universities quietly forget about this “role model” nonsense and just hire the best people?

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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