Up to now your instruction has been in the hands of teachers, and a teacher's job is to make sure that you learn. Teachers are evaluated on the basis of learning outcomes, generally as measured by standardized tests. If you don't learn, then your teacher is blamed.That's a pretty shallow view of what teachers do. A teacher's job certainly includes helping kids learn, but it also entails helping them on a broader basis. And even though we are evaluated via junk science, any of us who read Diane Ravitch know what nonsense that is. Furthermore, that is not the only factor on which we are judged. Given his sink or swim philosophy, it's surprising the professor hasn't done his homework. He continues:
However, things are very different for a university professor. It is no part of my job to make you learn. At university, learning is your job -- and yours alone. My job is to lead you to the fountain of knowledge. Whether you drink deeply or only gargle is entirely up to you.
It must be liberating to have no responsibility whatsoever. It's absurd to judge teachers on test scores. The American Statistical Association estimates teachers affect test scores by a factor of 1-14%, and suggests that judging teachers by scores could have negative consequences. On the other hand, it's also fairly reprehensible to not give a damn how your students do.
I am not held responsible for your failures. On the contrary, I get paid the same whether you get an "F" or an "A."
Well, enjoy that paycheck, professor. You may be surprised to learn that I also get paid the same regardless of my students' grades. But I kind of want them to pass. I develop bonds with kids I see every day, and I do not delight in their failure. I understand that you are not expected to intervene with parents, as I am, but that doesn't mean you ought to be indifferent to student progress either.
Your teachers were not allowed to teach, but were required to focus on preparing you for those all-important standardized tests.
That's nonsense. The overwhelming majority of high school teachers do not prepare for standardized tests. And it's a blatant insult to say we are "not allowed to teach." Aren't you the one who declares yourself a professor rather than a teacher? If teachers aren't teaching, who is?
Lecture has come under attack recently. "Flipped learning" is the current buzz term among higher-education reformers. We old-fashioned chalk-and-talk professors are told that we need to stop being the "sage on the stage," but should become the "guide on the side," helping students develop their problem-solving skills. Lecture, we are told, is an ineffective strategy for reaching today's young people, whose attention span is measured in nanoseconds.
I'm certain you're adept at lecture, as you indulge in it throughout your article. I've had professors who lectured. Some were very good at it. I recall one professor who lectured us constantly. I paid rapt attention, as he was very clever. He did not make outrageous assertions like those in your article. But I got a C on his first test, which had nothing whatsoever to do with his lecture and was based entirely on the textbook. I got A on all the following tests, as I'd learned his lecture was irrelevant to my grade. He felt no compunction to help us at all. He certainly enjoyed hearing himself talk. Once I realized how little he cared about us I became far less enthralled by his cleverness.
My favorite college professors encouraged and took an interest in us. In fact, I remember them more fondly than most of my high school teachers, who in my current estimation, were not all that great. Professors I admired were on topic, stimulated us, and actively elicited our participation. They encouraged us to challenge them. The very best of them were able to answer us quickly and confidently, and were not upset if we thought of things they had not. That's who I want to be for students who face me.
I don't mind going the extra mile to help kids, whether it's pushing them toward better grades or trying to help in other ways. I don't have a problem with the notion of students being responsible for their own grades, but neither do I have a problem with my being responsible to help them. Maybe someday they'll help someone else.
As it happens, I taught college for 20 years, and I remember being rated by my students every semester. I generally got very positive ratings (though no one was very happy with my handwriting).
I have to wonder, given how you revel in your indifference, how your students would rate you. I suppose you wouldn't care one way or the other. I, for one, am grateful not to be in your class, and I wouldn't want my kid or my students there either.