COLUMN: Students should be held accountable

Four years ago I wrote:

"Many American schools are mediocre or worse because the parents and students want them that way, and because politicians have turned academia into an extension of the welfare state for the enrichment and even entertainment of constituents - education be damned.

"We should raise standards at four-year universities, reduce

enrollment, and revive the liberal arts. Ball State University might as well be Ball State Junior College."(Sept. 20, 1997)."

Pedagogy is the art or science of teaching. Expecting more of professors and students may be a "disturbing conviction."

Reviving civics, foreign languages, geography, economics, history, sociology, psychology, culture, and the written word are "messy pedagogical issues."

Ms. Haley claims that her "students were incredibly invested in learning." Learning requires skills, knowledge, and expertise. Motivation and individual efforts cannot be discounted. Achievements - in reading, observing, analyzing, debating and writing skills - take concentration, time and energy.

"Disturbing convictions" could imply sinful behavior. "Moral accountability," or lack thereof, does the same. I do not know how Ms. Haley defines "sin."

The way I define insidious evils are in this fashion. A "sin" is when we know something is wrong, have an opportunity to change the situation or circumstances, yet we do nothing.

Ms. Haley and I may articulate insidious evils of the BSU system. But we have neither the power nor authority to make any changes. As long as we do what we can do...???

The president, provost, and deans are leaders in determining the quality of our collective works and individual experiences.

Ms. Haley ends her Your Turn column by claiming that I am "a faculty member who abhors the system (with which he has a parasitic relationship) and who publicly scorns the students." I do not scorn people. I do scorn, on occasion, behaviors.

Rude student behaviors need identification. Being absent from class, coming into class late, falling asleep in class and talking in class are clearly, positively, definitely not tolerated.

Ms. Haley writes that I am "parasitic." This is a free country. Freedoms of speech and press are part of the First Amendment. Most everyone in America has opinions. These are our rights. If I am a parasite is for others to decide - and not me.

That I would do away with teaching a basic writing course is not accurate either. That I support a "revolution" in BSU English department demands, requirements, standards, and hiring practices is true.

In her final paragraph, Ms. Haley writes: "Teachers need to realize that they do have something to learn from their students: if nothing else, they must learn how to better teach them."

This comment is standard folklore by those who administer, advise and coordinate student activities. Unorganized labor or professors or faculty are constantly crowded into this foray by persons who occupy the proverbial sidelines. How could any professor teach students and not learn?

Faculty, or unorganized labor, are more effective teachers today than ever before in the history of pedagogy.

College is an opportunity - and no guarantee. Professors profess and evaluate. Students study and aspire. Disturbing convictions? Moral accountability?

Write to John atjerouse@bsu.edu


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