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[Fsfe-uk] RE: accu-general: Overload 56 editorial

From: Paul
Subject: [Fsfe-uk] RE: accu-general: Overload 56 editorial
Date: Thu, 28 Aug 2003 00:40:02 +0100


> <Sorry this has turned into a bit of a rant.>

Not a problem.

> > I couldn't agree more. I've seen academics go from being rather good to
> > something as dire as...
> > 
> > http://www.paulf-johnson.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/cpp-index.html
> > 
> > This was taught as recently as 2 years back. I've not seen the up to
> > date version as I have a feeling there isn't one.

> There are many so called "academics" who are out of date, old fashioned
> and should never have been academic in the first place.  Can you sack
> them, can you $$$$.  I know, I have tried.

Unfortunately (and speaking as a Uni employee), getting rid of someone
on grounds of being an incompetant nincompoop is not easy - infact, it's
damned hard.

> There are a large number of academics who are genuinely hard working
> conscientious and do stay up to date via their research and their
> teaching -- please don't blacken the good with the stupidities of the
> high-profile bad.  Academia is not a single thing nor is it homogenous.

The same can be applied for any discipline. My original degree is in
Chemistry and both forms of academic are there - fossils who just don't
see the point in updating their text and information and those who are
right on the edge. It is unfortunate to say though that it is the new
Universities which tend to have the "bleeding edge" academics while the
money pig ones have the other type. The bigger swine is that it is the
old Unis who have all the cash :-(

> The real problem is that past Labour Governments, past Conservative
> Governments and the current Government which could be either Labour or
> Conservative depending on the day of the week,

Who was it who said that the current Government was just the political
wing of the Tory party? Sounds like something Alan B'stard would say
(but didn't)

> have slashed the per
> capita spend on tertiary education making it far far worse than it was
> even 20 years ago.  

It's not just that - the problem comes further down than that. It comes
from the GCSE level. Kids are *not* getting the pre-requisite knowledge
for them to be able to tackle a proper A level course. I've seen this
time and time again. I don't care if the pass rate is 98% for GCSE as
very few of them would have the same amount of knowledge as someone who
took the same subject exams in 1990 (say). 

They then progress to tertiary education without the prior knowledge and
onto dumbed down A levels. The academics have become disillusioned due
to contract wrangles and seeing the dilution of their subject areas to
such a point where it is hardly recognisable any more. With the lower
funding, there is also a lowering in facilities and training budgets.

I can say all of this as other than primary/junior education, I've
worked in every level up (senior, FE, HE and research HE) and have seen
all of this happen first hand.

Education, like the health service, should be run by those who know what
they're talking about, not suits in Whitehall.

> Academia is no longer a place I really want to work nor could I really
> recommend it to anyone.  This has to be not only a warning but a dire
> warning since without competent academics teaching competent students to
> proper tertiary level we are destroying our future.

I totally agree. Education is, unfortunately, seen as a black stain on a
CV. Employers outside of education see that you've worked there for
years and unless you can show demonstrateable knowledge, they will look
past you at some grunt with probably 1/10th the knowledge...

After 15 years working in education, I find it almost impossible to get
out. So, I'm taking teacher training...

> So who is to blame, a number of people:  government ministers,
> government officials, university managers and staff

Government and the individual. Government for not supplying the required
money and the individual for not updating their knowledge base.

> Of course if we don't want a stream of good 21 year old people of good
> education funded out of taxation then let us shut the universities now
> and save the money.   It will mean that companies will have to start
> proper education and training programs.  Will they do, will they $$$$.

I personally think the whole area of education needs a good look at and
the BS removed. Schools are falling down and failing, students are
failing. What was originally a damned fine idea (GCSE) has now just
turned into a joke (the fiasco over results last year showed that if
nothing else!). I'm not saying that we need to bring back grammar
schools, but we do need a huge hike in education funding. Sod giving 110
million UKP (or so) to Microsoft a year for the school licence fees and
get it re-invested where it's needed; teachers, books and buildings - at
least then we have a solid base to work from and then, perhaps, we can
bring standards back up to before the great dilution came.

As for Unis - there are moves afoot with the new pay structure which
will benefit those who keep their knowledge up to date. I agree though,
those unwilling to keep up to date should be shown the door - they are
doing more harm than good.

/me removes soap box to somewhere else ;-p



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