Thursday, April 3, 2008

My Vision of Universities Today

The video below seems to express the tensions felt by many students today. As we sit through classes we are constantly googling, wikipediaing, facebooking, instant messaging, texting on cell phones, catching up on readings we are behind in, listening to music and various other things taking away from our education.

Why is this? The answer is because we as students in the 21st Century live in an extremely hypermediated world. Research, as well as this video both voice this. Consider the fact that one female in this video writes 42 pages of text for class, contrasted with 500 pages of email. The email figure is skewed when you consider what context this is in. 500 pages for school related emailing only is what I am thinking. When you couple this with emails regarding weekending, instant messaging conversations, facebook postings and text messaging we as students write well over 5000 pages per year worth of material.

One girl states, ‘I am a multi-tasker, I have to be.’ This holds quite true for students in any program. Considering the amount of readings we are stockpiled with, the various assignments, trying to keep up with hobbies, athletics, music, fashion, film, as well as have a small social life, it’s a wonder there isn’t such a thing as a ‘mid 20’s crisis’.

One of the figures in this video is that we read 49% of the readings assigned to us. As a student this does not astonish me at all, but it should astonish many others not thoroughly involved in the education system. That is slightly less than half of what we are required to do, perhaps this is because 17% of what we read applies to our lives. Being that this course encourages us as consumers of media to engage with and critically analyze media, I think this makes up for at least 10% of what I’ve read this entire year. Being a double major in English and Sociology, half of what I read has nothing to do with my life (being the sociology part). The material seems redundant to me in the fact that I can no longer go on learning of job inequalities. I undertook a sociology degree because it was good job training for the labour market, however the material is such common knowledge I feel half the people at the university with common sense should be awarded a Sociology degree. An example of how redundant the material is would be exam questions asking you whether or not racial minorities have a harder time finding housing than white middle class, or whether there are gender inequalities in the labour market.

Do you now see how pointless some of what we are learning is? I didn’t have to open my text book the whole semester for exams like that, hence why I have 100 dollar texts I have never and will never read, I could have answered those questions at 14. Although I am proud of my good common sense, I find it pathetic that I pay $5,600 dollars a year in tuition, and can take a serial murder course I haven’t read any material for and score an 80 on the first midterm and 68 on the second. Perhaps if there were more courses like this media course at Guelph people would actually get a valuable degree instead of a piece of paper that seems to merely state they are not complete idiots.

My hope for future students is that there is a greater focus on media awareness and less focus on redundant pointless information that either goes in one ear and out the other or we already know.

1 comment:

I. Reilly said...

your final posts are very crisp, thoughtful, and articulate. i can tell you've been really engaging with these texts.