Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Fred's right again 

Fred Reed (of whom my son and I are longtime fans) suggests separating the diploma from a statement that students actually learned something. He comments in his inimitable style:
Note, incidentally, that the function of professors is not primarily to teach, but to select the material and to insist that students show up for class. Sure, sometimes the prof offers useful explanation or discussion. The study of spoken languages requires a teacher. Yet there are few subjects that a bright and determined student couldn�t learn with a textbook and a library. Other students shouldn�t be studying at all.

A crucial question: Who would write the universal test? There�s the rub. If the present professoriate got anywhere near it, they would intellectually disembowel it, translate it into Ebonics, and stuff it full of crypto-Marxist blather like a taxidermist given to excess. I would suggest a committee of people who had worked in their fields but could prove they had never taught.

Universities would of course fight the idea fang and claw, in hideous English. ... [But a]s long as the degree, however worthless, is the measure of merit, we will get more propaganda, lower standards, and less cultivation.

(Hat tip: Cold Spring Shops.)