Wednesday, June 26, 2013

BINGE AND BARF


                                                                  


This is how a university student described final examinations to me:   You binge on studying--textbooks, notebooks, case studies-- and then you write that exam, regurgitating everything.   Or maybe the 'barf' part is afterwards when you attempt to empty your brain of the now unnecessary information and make room for the next load of material.    

 I remember reading a book maybe a decade ago  titled something like "What you remember about courses 5 years after you leave university".   A one or two page summary was given for courses like Economics 101 and Roman History.  The rest of the what you learned had disappeared into the shredder that resides in your brain.   You could, of course, consult the $150 textbook that you were required to purchase.   You wouldn't have paid that for a two page summary.    

Is this a good approach to education?  Perhaps once the student has persevered, survived and graduated, they are inclined to think that others, following, must suffer as well.   I must confess to feeling pride in my degrees but I doubt I could pass most of the courses today. It's the nitpicky details that have long since departed my recollection.   The degrees do serve as a screening device to limit the number of applicants for post-graduate jobs.    

A lot of exams require memorizing a vast amount of data and information.   Is this useful?  In the computer era, all that information is easily available.   Should a student be required to memorize the algorithm for the area of a triangle, if entering area of a triangle in the search box will almost instantly produce the formula?

Education is a controversial subject and there are many theories as to what is best at all levels of education from pre-school to post-doctorate.   What's your opinion?

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