When Other People Get Colds.....We Get Pneumonia

I guess it is only right that my 100th post would be my first post in about 2 years.  I have been telling myself that I would be get back to blogging for a long time, but I have not had the adequate motivation to return.....

At least not until today.

Before I get started I am going to start by saying that I am going to fill in the gaps intermittently as I continue posting.  It would be boring to just fill in all of the gaps in one long post.  My idea is, as I post I will be able to relate whatever I am posting about to something that has happened recently. 

Anyhow....let's get started.

Presently I am back at my alma mater (North Carolina A&T State University) teaching Physics labs and assisting with the recruitment efforts of the department.  We are attempting to increase the number of under represented groups in physics.  When you last heard from me I was studying at The Pennsylvania State University working on my Masters in Geosciences.  I have successfully attained that degree, and after three years I am happy to be closer to home.

During my time at Penn State I taught Introduction to Geology labs and had the opportunity to interact with the students on the same level that I am interacting with the students here at A&T.  Conventional wisdom would tell you (though that wisdom is COMPLETELY incorrect) that the students at a PWI would be LEAPS and BOUNDS ahead of the students a HBCU, especially in the areas of science and math.  Many people would lead you to believe that if a student wants to get ahead in life then an education at a PWI is the correct route to take.  I do not want to address the latter assumption, though I'm sure I will eventually, I will address the former.

When it come to BASIC mathematical and scientific concepts students EVERYWHERE are not coming into college with an adequate amount of proficiency.  I can not speak for the skills of students at the time of graduation because the labs I have taught are taken within the first two years of entering college.  I CAN say with a fair amount of confidence that kids are not getting any smarter, but I do not know if they are getting more stupid.

My issue does not come from the fact that the students do not know the material.  Ignorance is a problem that is easily fixed with study and hard work.  I start to become irritated when the student does not know the material, does not want to learn it, and does not see why they need to know it.  Hence the title of this post.

When I taught the geology classes at Penn State there were some students in the class that CLEARLY would never use geology in life (like the business majors), but there were some where it would definitely become necessary for them to access some geological knowledge (like civil engineers).  There were some that did need geology knew they needed it and tried hard to learn it and typically did well in the class.  Then there were some that needed it but did not know they did.  That always lead to me explaining to them how geology would help them sometime in the future.  Most accepted it, some didn't, that is expected.

Here is the difference.

The scenario is EXACTLY the same at A&T except for the fact that the students WILL NOT accept the fact that physics is important to their academic development.  In what universe is physics not important in architectural engineering?  mechanical engineering? any kind of engineering?  Why is learning about circuits not important to someone who's major is computer science?  How can you manage a construction site without knowing basic information about force and angles?  These are the question I ask myself whenever I hear, "Why do I need to know physics?"  or "I will never use this stuff again."

I am not discussing aptitude.  The students are more than capable of doing the work.  I am worried about the laziness and the unwillingness to learn something that is challenging.  I have had several conversation with professors that have been teaching for years, and they are stumped on how to alleviate the problem.

I am done for now, but I am sure that I will revisit this in the near future.

Happy 100th post to me.



Niki McNeill said...

Yaaay! Glad that you took the time to write a post :-)

kid.a said...

Great post and Happy 100th!!!!

I'm glad to hear you survived Penn State and came away with a master in Geosciences!!! Thats a major accomplishment bro.

Believe it or not but I had the hardest time w/ my science classes...chemistry, biology, and physics. By far and large the hardest for me was physics.

I think the major challenge for me wasn't the material but the communication/relationship I had w/ my professor. Lets just say, we didn't start off on the right foot. Granted it was on me to learn and understand the material. But there is another dimension added if 1.) you can't understand the teach and 2.) don't feel like you can reach out to the teacher for help.

I feel as though some of the teachers I ran into (at A&T) just didn't give a f**k and that mentality is contagious. But I'm not blaming my mediocre grade on the teacher b/c like you said it falls back on the student and his/her willingness to learn.

Like you I don't know the answer/solution but know that things need to change not only w/ ourselves but also in our education system.

***MINI RANT*** - first off we need to pay teachers more. the crap teachers put up w/ isn't reflected in their salary. I know there are some that teach just to teach but you gotta make a living. doctors get paid and so should teachers...their job is just as important. The cost of school is too damn expensive. Example: my 1st semester of college books (fall 2002) cost $1000+...ridiculous! Luckily for me, I had someone to help me pay for em'...SHOUT OUT TO SUNNIE HOWARD, YOU ARE THE BEST!!!!

I could go on but I won't....

So I'll end in saying we have some issue/holes in our eduction/learning/get lifted system today but its glad to see people like you (who are in the middle of it) are thinking about it and trying to figure it out.

p.s. what the hell is Geosciences again?!?! haha...