Friday, 31 May 2013

What is a University?

I'm not going to discuss the even deeper issue of what is education in this post, although I plan to do it in the future. I just want to talk about what a University should be and what it is becoming.

In principle, the amount of knowledge which is the minimum for a well-educated and conscious citizen finishes when the person is about 18, with some variations among countries. I'm not gonna argue right now why it should be increased to around 21, I am going to concentrate in another aspect: the meaning of being educated beyond that.

Once this basic education period ended, it is up to the person if he or she wants or not to study more. There comes the University. It's a choice. And we must have very clear in our minds that it MUST continue as a choice. If there's any aspect of education that should not be a choice, it should be included in the basic period, which, if it is too short, should be increased.

Now, everyone should have the RIGHT to go to the University. But there's a crucial point here. The right to GO to the University is very different of a right to GET A DIPLOMA, no matter what happens. I explain.

An honest University should explain exactly what kind of title it is going to give to the student. What is the student supposed to learn. That should be VERY clear from the beginning. Second, the student should NOT get a diploma without learning what was agreed. For post-modernist pedago-psychologists that might sound crazy, but if that is not the case, you are actually doing a HARM to the student. A University that allows students to graduate with either a diploma that does not reflect their skills or without really proving that they learned those skills is LYING not only to the student but also to the society.

Universities are place to create and disseminate knowledge, which is way above short-term economical bullshit. Even in a non-scientific course, let's say, a technical one, learning the correct skills should be above getting the diploma-receipt. When unprepared people leave the University with a diploma saying they are prepared, the harm they can do to society is huge.

What many pseudo-psychologists must argue is that students should nor be stressed too much. Well, I can guarantee that is overwhelming evidence from many different areas of science, including computer science, that if one doesn't make some effort in learning something, you will not learn it. More than that, we all know that if you don't ask in an exam some subject, the amount of study of the majority of students on that subject will approach zero. Talk to teachers, not to psychologists in this case.

Other people will say that the students are still children and must be treated like that. If that's true, the University has become simply a hypocritical way of extending the basic education. Politicians love this kind of thing. The only problem is that this is destroying the creation and dissemination of knowledge idea and the ability of people to think critically. Politicians love this as well, believe me.

In summary, if you go to the University, you've earned the right to TRY to get your diploma, not the right to get it. Good and honest Universities should enforce this, for the good of everyone.