Retire Mechanical engineer. Student at California State university Channel Island studiyingAbout Me

November 17, 2017

Today's Education

One of my fellow student friends from the university recently found me on Instagram and started following me. I enjoyed his company during our college years, as both of us were studying “Political Science,” and I am pleased to know we can stay in contact. We had quite good conversations and occasionally used Facetime to discuss issues, problems, or questions with our classes.

We both graduated in May of 2017. His parents are from Mexico and live in the Santa Barbara area. He is a very intelligent, taciturn young man and reminds me of my youth; basically, shy in nature as I was. The only real difference between us is the age difference. I am in my late sixties he is probably in his early twenties.

Jorge recently complained to me about just how hard it is to find a job now that he has graduated and earned his degree. My advice to him was to apply to either the State Department or CIA. In my opinion, this intelligent young man could, in fact, handle any job in civil service.

I pondered as to why he was finding it so difficult to secure a job. In my ruminating, I thought of what it had been like at the university.

In one of my classes called, “Nonprofit Management 101,” there was a question put forward by the professor, whose specialty is architecture but teaches this class. I never understood the relevance. But, back to the question which was, “What is the best way to attract students to this university?”

The administration was under the impression that it could attract new students if it built a new ‘space age’ building for the department of mechanical engineering.

Of course, I raised my hand and gave my opinion that new buildings don’t attract students. It’s the quality of education that does. I gave examples of two British schools, Oxford and Cambridge, whose buildings date back to the sixteen hundred’s, but to register in one of these universities, one must endure being added to long waiting lists, and have the highest grades possible.

This had the professor thinking. Later, when he gave his opinion, he said it was like AT&T asking the question why their landlines were no longer selling. The professor answered that the reason was that something new and better and shinier came along - cell phones. I was not surprised at his answer. But does something new and shiny always solve the situation, or make things better?

Now, to get back to the question the professor had asked and the project the administration was proposing. We were one of three classes the professor was teaching and the project was to raise money for the new ‘space age’ building. I have to admit it was an interesting project and I was able to lead our class to raising the most amount of money and winning the competition; thus our class didn’t have to take the final exam.

In my opinion, the university I attended is no different from most campuses. The university buildings reminded of me courthouses, each department has a green grass courtyard in the middle. At the far end of the campus there is a large complex of dormitories, and the campus itself sets on fashionably designed acreage. There are numerous parking lots and the rules are strictly observed. In addition, there is metered parking along the roadways and an outsider must pay a minimum $6 for parking.

Every morning at the university I witnessed throngs of young students hurrying along the long trek from building to building. The paths crisscrossed through carefully manicured grassland. The students hustled to their morning classes, lithe and young, intent on their obscure purposes. Khakis and jeans, cotton and color; all carrying backpacks.

I was among those students every morning. The only difference? They thought I was a professor. They can relate to adults with whom they have a forced personal contact. But strangers are as meaningless to them as the rocks and shrubbery and trees. They are in the vivid tug and flex of life. The professors and I were the faded pictures on the wall.

They are a melting pot of every ethnicity. They all seem to have an urgency about them, that strained, hurried final semester look. This institution, like all the others across the country, crams them through sooner and feeds them out faster into the corporations and the track houses; breeding and hurrying, all their time carefully organized, dealing with money budgets, binary systems, recreation funds, taxi transports, group adjustments, tenure, and constructive hobbies.

They are being structured to life on the run, and by the time they become what is known as ‘senior citizens,’ they fit nicely into planned communities where recreation is scheduled on such a tight and competitive basis that they can continue to run, plan, and organize until falling at last into a silence. Then, the group therapist will gather them, rosy their cheeks, close the box and lower them to the only rest they have ever known.

Today’s American system of education is not at its best and hasn’t been for quite some time. These institutions keep increasing the flood of students. It is all functional, of course. But, isn’t it the same as what we’ve done to poultry, cows, and our crops? Forced growth under optimum drugs; so that in a very short time they are ready for the slaughter house or mechanical picker?

The most forlorn and comical statements are the ones made by the grateful young who say, “Now I can be ready in less than three years to go out and earn a living rather than wasting all those years trying to get a PhD.

Yet, so many can’t. So many are falling by the wayside. Sadly, the system is failing them. And, it will continue to fail them until steps are taken to bring it back to a more balanced way of teaching and a more realistic view of life. And, that is a discussion for another time.