Backwards

We’ve got it backwards. In school we tell students to sit down, turn off their laptops, shut up, and pay attention, all in an effort to get them to learn. We are starting with the assumption that the content or presentation of the lecturer is not engaging enough to maintain the focus of the students. A good lecturer would tell their students to open their computers, to browse distracting websites, because it is their job, and their challenge to capture the attention of those who are present (https://youtu.be/uVGuOTQ4gtI?t=230).

I think we as students also have a sickness too though, through no fault of our own, but because of the academic culture we grew up in. We’ve learned survival techniques to help us skirt by (or excel) using shortcuts and flashcards based on the current academic system and so we are afraid of changing our ways or when teachers alter the format to try new things to be more engaging. So the teachers who do have the courage to try something different are met with resistance and/ or negative feedback, shaming them into just going back to their old ways.

Maybe you could also say, hey we can’t expect all teachers/ lecturers/ instructors to be amazing presenters and be able to engage any and all students, that’s unrealistic. And I agree, but does that mean we should default to the driest form of information transfers possible? In the age of the internet there are so many resources out their to learn about nearly anything you want and frankly universities are behind the times.

Today it’s possible for a student to get through their first year of medical school without opening an official textbook or attending a single lecture covering exam material. That doesn’t make them exceptionally smart or special, it means they are resourceful and that they prefer to learn in a way that doesn’t destroy their soul.

The information is out there, and it is beautifully packaged and delivered in so many different ways, and much of it for free, and the rest of it for pennies compared to the cost of medical school tuition. The same applies for most undergraduate education. Back then, I went to every single lecture (health permitting) because was under the impression that I had to go to lecture or else that was like throwing thousands of dollars down the drain every day. But I had it backwards. This attitude allows for university to get away with the exploitation of students and aspiring professionals. Instead we should be asking, what are these universities providing that is truly worth the exorbitant tuition costs other than a title and a piece of paper that says we scored well enough on a bunch of tests.

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