And what about universities and colleges?
Well, the situation at universities is much better for a combination of reasons, I will mention a few:
- The age of a university/college student is significantly higher so more maturity and self-discipline can be expected.
- Most higher education establishments have a screening process which guaranties that all students are at least on the level required to handle the different subjects while in elementary and high schools there isn’t such a process.
- Universities and colleges are mostly private institution and even if not, they are not obliged to keep a student that doesn’t meets the require standards.
- Higher education establishments are usually expensive thus making the student putting in extra effort to conduct himself appropriately, especially if the student sees his studies as an investment for his future.
- Many work places today, demand university/college titles and this gives students extra motivation as they see these qualifications as a goal needed to advance in their professional career and to achieve economic independence and stability.
- The level of the teachers (professors) in higher education establishments is undoubtedly higher, more subject to strict control and undeniably more professional. No professor is admitted without showing relevant credentials and experience.
All these factors point to the main differences between the level of teaching (and learning) in schools compared to that of universities and colleges. Nevertheless, as universities are after all a continuation or a product of the learning skills acquired in primary and secondary school, there are still some problems associated to this, let me refer to some of these:
- When wrong learning methods are applied for a long period the result is in many cases non-effective ways of learning and time management.
- Since the focus is, throughout the school years to pass exams, students continue to apply these goals in their studying rather than give an emphasis to comprehension and understanding of the material learned.
- In recent years, due to the global decline in the level of education in many countries, university professors complain about the much lower level of students they are force to accept in order to maintain the same level of activity, sometimes achieved by lowering the standards.
- As a result of the easier information transfer through computer networks, students find it very simple to cheat, buy or download works of others and achieve credits without investing the necessary time or research.
These are just a few factors but in any case, universities and colleges are in a far less critical situation than that faced by the primary and high school public system in many countries.
The problem is clear, the solutions exist and are available, the only thing that is in the way of progress is: outdated approaches to education and until someone in government decides that “enough is enough” we will force our kids and youngsters to learn according to standards set in the 19th century and schools will keep behaving like factories.