The main point of this article centers around the belief that the curriculum that is currently taught in most colleges is clearly not teaching students what they need to know. In other words, when they obtain their bachelor's degree they have learned very little of what they need to know and they have only learned to memorize information to pass the tests to receive that degree. They have been taught certain things, and they have retained those things long enough to pass tests on the required subjects, however learning and then forgetting information does not mean that actual learning has taken place.
The article points out that courses in specific disciplines are very important, but that many courses do not ask students to actually use logic and abstract thinking to arrive at answers. Merely learning something from a book and taking a test on it is not the same thing as learning how to think for oneself. Many of these college courses do not challenge students to look at the evidence and determine why they think a particular way about a certain subject or event. The assumption that students do not learn as much from specific set courses as they would from a wider and more open curriculum seems to be logical.
The article looks at this by pointing out how students learn, and how they become aware of the need to think for themselves. The logic behind the article is that students who learn to properly think for themselves will continue to do that in courses that they take, instead of just learning what they have to learn in that course to get by. In the other words, the authors of the article express a need for students to look beyond what is presented in textbooks to the 'how' and 'why' of the information they are being given.
It is easier to simply assume that what is read in the textbook or told to them by the instructor is correct, and therefore there is no reason to question it. While this may often be easier, it is not necessarily the best choice. Students who only believe what is in textbooks or told to them by their instructors do not think for themselves. When they get out into the real world of jobs and lives and are required to think for themselves they are not able to do a very good job of this.
Learning to think for oneself is allegedly one of the main reasons that people go to college, and the position of the article seems to be that this is not, in fact, being taught. While it is arguable as to whether one can actually be taught to think properly, it is probably safe to believe that most rational and intelligent human beings can be shown the reasons that they need to think critically about specific issues. Once they are shown these reasons and have learned that there is a value in thinking critically, they can decide for themselves whether or not they wish to exercise this newfound ability.
The article does not say that colleges today are not any good, or that the people receiving bachelor's degrees do not deserve them. Rather, the article is more concerned with the fact that students who come in with a desire to actually learn something often find that college is just basically rote memorization and nothing more. No real learning, in the deepest and truest sense of the word, is taking place.
There is also emotional argument in the article, in that there is an overtone of despair that permeates through the article at the apparent lack of ability of current college educators to actually teach students the kinds of things they will need to learn for life. Many people have said that college is nothing like real life, and they are correct. This is what the article is trying to point out. College has gone too far away from real life, and students who do well in college because they read fast, retain information well, and do well on tests, may not do well in real life, when their new job presents them with an analytical problem that was not covered in their textbook.
Not being able to solve these kinds of problems may make them look as though they did not learn anything in college. Quite the opposite is true. They learned everything in college that was taught to them; the problem is that they were not taught the right things. It is not the fault of the student who goes through four years of college and learns everything that he can, if he is unprepared for the job market.
The fault lies with those who have taught the students, because they have not taken into account the types of issues that these students will have to deal with in the real world when they graduate. This difficulty between school life and real life is the actual gist of the article, and hence the main point that the authors are trying to make.
As for my insights and beliefs about the thesis offered in the article, I have to agree with the authors. College is not like the real world, and when someone graduates college and attempts to get a job they often find it difficult because things that they learned in college are rarely the things that they need for the actual work environment. Having a job often involves analytical thinking, and problem solving, and other issues that are not taught in the current curriculum of many colleges.
Actually, that is not entirely accurate. Many of these things are taught in college, but they are taught in specific classes where their use is necessary, and it is not explained to the students at the time that these particular analytical ways of thinking can be expanded into other subjects.
It is not to imply that college students are stupid, and that they cannot realize that these techniques can be used in other ways, but most of college is a blur for many students, as they work their way through tests and papers and other issues that they need to deal with. It is also quite often a time of very intense issues with growing up, as they make the transition from children to adults.
Those who return to college after an extended stay in the workforce often do not have the growing up issues that the average college student faces, but there is still a dilemma because the life of hallways and classrooms is so much different than the life spent working for a living, and this can cause stress for the older college student as well.
I believe the thesis in the article to be largely true, not just from experience, but because there is logic behind what the authors have to say. For example, the average college classroom encourages the reading of the textbook, the taking of notes, and the rote memorization and repetition of facts and figures that will be presented on the test. When one gets out into the real world and works at a job, sometimes they take notes, but other than the employee manual there is usually not much memorization from books. People do not take written tests in most jobs, except for an entrance exam, perhaps, and everyday decisions become small tests of the ability to think critically.
Learning from a book and reciting the information onto a test is not really teaching students about how to think specific problems through and apply that knowledge to other issues. It is only learning to figure out what they need to know to get by, remembering that information as long as is necessary to pass the test,…