Wednesday, December 9, 2009

And in Missouri a four year degree in three

The guy who ran Sprint into the ground wants to talk about a three year college degree at MU.

The Star termed it a "no frills" degree. Forsee (his name does not necessarily indicate an ability to see the future -- ask former Sprint employees) actually talked about people not wanting to "waste" money and time on a four year college education. Waste!

Let me tell you this. As a college educator we are damned lucky if we can prepare a student for life beyond college in four years. And, that's not because we are wasting time, or the money we don't have. It is because, most importantly, students often come to us right out of the eighth grade.

Read their e-mails and you'll know what I mean.

So, I take offense at his language. If he thinks the University of Missouri is wasting money, he needs to look at the salaries and expense accounts of its administrative employees, and it would be good to start with his office. I don't know anything special about his office. It's just that I've had occasion to see the work product of some college administrators.

But, If I am offended by his language, I'm not beyond considering the idea. However, judging from the reactions to the story from "readers" (and in some cases, I use the term lightly), I would take a different route to a three year degree.

I would actually include more of the dreaded liberal arts courses. In fact, for a three-year degree that's all a student at my university would take. I'd eliminate majors and minors -- and departments and textbooks -- and just spend three years helping students learn to ask and answer questions. They might be a little unruly when they graduated -- a little less willing to accept the status quo without asking those troublesome questions -- but they would be thoroughly educated and certainly capable of learning how to push the buttons and work the levers of any profession short of engineering or medicine.

They'd be the kind of employees you'd love if you wanted problem solvers and not robots. They'd understand the big picture so well they could shape the little picture themselves. They'd be excellent graduate students, if that's what they wanted to do. If you wanted a doctor who would ask you the right questions rather than read you the protocol, they'd be the perfect candidates for the job.

If you wanted journalists who would not only be able to adapt and conquer but innovate, they'd be the ones you wanted. If the next big medium is, say, delivering news by hologram in the sky, they'd be the reporters you'd need to figure out how to get the most information to the hologram viewers in the shortest time.

Ah, well... I'm pretty sure that isn't what the brain trust at MU has in mind. Or, KU for that matter, so don't go there...


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