2019 essay contest winners 2018 essay contest winners The submission deadline for the 2019 essay contest has passed.The Center for Ethics and Education is pleased to announce an essay contest for graduate students.
The atmosphere of too many residence halls drives serious students out of their own rooms (functionally, their on-campus homes) to study, write, reflect, and think.
Rethinking higher education means reconstituting institutional culture by rigorously identifying, evaluating and challenging the many damaging accommodations that colleges and universities, individually and collectively, have made (and continue to make) to consumer and competitive pressures over the last several decades. ” We mean the allocation of increasing proportions of institutional resources to facilities, personnel, programs and activities that do not directly and significantly contribute to the kind of holistic, developmental and transformative learning that defines higher learning.
The academy has adopted an increasingly consumer-based ethic that has produced costly and dangerous effects: the expectations and standards of a rigorous liberal education have been displaced by thinly disguised professional or job training curriculums; teaching and learning have been devalued, deprioritized, and replaced by an emphasis on magazine rankings; and increased enrollment, winning teams, bigger and better facilities, more revenue from sideline businesses, and more research grants have replaced learning as the primary touchstone for decision-making.
Teaching is increasingly left to contingent faculty; tenure-track professors have few incentives to spend time with undergraduates, improve their teaching, or measure what their students are learning.
We do not demand enough (doing that would conflict with consumer friendliness, perhaps); our standards are not high enough (setting them higher creates retention worries); we accept half-hearted work from students who do not insist on enough from themselves and do not know how to ask for more from their teachers (doing otherwise would make college more serious; how could it still be “fun”? Degrees have become deliverables because we are no longer willing to make students work hard against high standards to earn them.
A weak educational culture creates all the wrong opportunities.In the peer culture, time spent on class work, reading, and reflection must be limited; too much of it becomes a stain on a student’s social value.It has become possible -- even likely -- to survive academically, be retained in school, get passing grades and graduate with a baccalaureate despite long-term patterns of alcohol and other substance abuse that are known to damage the formation of new memories and reduce both the capacity and the readiness to learn.We mean the assumption that retention is just keeping students in school longer, without serious regard for the quality of their learning or their cumulative learning outcomes at graduation.We mean giving priority to intercollegiate sports programs while support for the success of the great majority of students who are not athletes suffers.We mean the enormous expenditures devoted purely to securing a “better ranking” in the magazine surveys.We mean the progressive reduction in academic, intellectual, and behavioral expectations that has undermined the culture, learning conditions, and civility of so many campus communities.Expectations for hard work in college have fallen victim to smorgasbord-style curriculums, large lecture classes, and institutional needs to retain students in order to make the budget.Minimal student effort is rewarded with inflated grades.None of this makes for higher learning, nor does it adequately prepare students for employment or citizenship.We need to rethink the ends and means of higher education.