Phi Beta Cons

The Dumbing Down of Education

Here is an important article from today’s Wall Street Journal about the “progressive education” attack on competition. It does a lot to explain why it’s so hard to teach college students these days — they have been sheltered from competition and criticism of their work.
The author quotes UNC professor Mel Levine, who contends that when students are rewarded for participation rather than achievement, they don’t get a strong sense of what they are good at and what they’re not. That leads to trouble later on in life: “They expect a lot of feedback on a daily basis. They expect grade inflation. They expect to be told what a wonderful job they’re doing.”
I have often heard it said that students won’t accept critical comment on their writing, for example. They angrily brush aside criticism with a statement like, “That’s just your opinion; all my teachers have said I am a very good writer.”
You can fake education for a long time, but eventually the students pay for it.

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


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