This is a hidden gem of a TED talk. With only 853 views, it’s hardly been touched (by TED standards, anyway). But in this eight-minute clip, BU professor Leslie Epstein dares to confront the grim reality of the nature of college education in America: namely, that college kids don’t know anything. And he’s right.
I attend Northeastern University, and experiential learning is our big selling point. Granted, I’m very glad to have had the co-op program to force me into internships I wouldn’t have been motivated to do had I gone to a different school. I like to think that I’m also learning about profound human truths and accomplishments (I’m taking Eastern Religion next semester, and I’m ridiculously excited about it). But at the same time, I’d always been hungrier for knowledge than many of my peers growing up, and was dubbed “Dictionary” on multiple occasions back in high school. A lot of the knowledge I’ve acquired, I’ve sought out myself.
Northeastern just got its largest donation ever, for the business school. The tangible skills that the business school can offer are fantastic. But I hope maybe someday my college – the College of Arts, Media, and Design – will get the same kind of recognition.
What do you think? Can universities strike a balance and offer both tangible skills and classical disciplines to all students?
Here’s another edition of Greg’s Practical Advice! For more info about this recurring column, check out the first post here.
One day in class, Greg asked this question: Why do college students turn in assignments that are rife with grammatical errors? The answer: because there’s no consequence! Our teachers, although well-meaning, are busy people and often let things fall through the cracks.
He told us a story of a college student he knew who had the feeling that his professors weren’t reading and critiquing his papers properly. In an assignment, he included the sentence ”If you read this line, I’ll buy you a pizza.” Sure enough – the professor didn’t notice. He tried it again in other classes – those professors didn’t notice either! Eventually, someone caught the line, and the student treated his professor to pizza.
This means that we have to take it upon ourselves to learn to write effectively. How? Read, read, read!
Textbooks and academic publications are the worst things to read if you want to learn to write well. They’re verbose, clunky, and hard to internalize. Pick up a book. Try something that is universally received as good literature. Read Hemingway if you want to learn to write in short sentences. Read Orwell for grammar and syntax. And of course – learn to write without careless mistakes! It could cost you more than a pizza someday – it might cost you the interview.
Image courtesy of Flickr user beachblogger42.
This is one of my favorite TED talks. It’s petite and to-the-point. Graham Hill discusses the benefits of small, simple living: more money, more time, more peace of mind. I know I can use some life editing. How about you?