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03 June 1999

I really don't like to rant, but sometimes life just gets to me.  Today, it's school.

I am not anti-school.  In fact, I love learning.  Unfortunately, I no longer feel like I am learning.  Instead, I am part of the herd of university cattle.  As we make the long trek across the plains of knowledge, the weak who can't handle the pressure of too much work fall out, left for the vultures.  The rest of us make it to the end, only to be sold for slaughter.  Boy, I'm depressing!

In all honesty, I really do feel like I'm being herded through a system where the goal is to get through it by doing as little work as possible.  I realize a lot of this is my own attitude.  After working for eight-plus hours, there is very little energy for sitting in a classroom listening to a professor, who may have no "life experience", drone on about the "absolutes".  Let me pay my money and give me the piece of paper!

So what is the solution?  Well, here's my version:  It all depends.  The main consideration is, what is the goal of the institution you're attending?  I am a firm believer that for the basics you must have repetition.  Yes, homework sucks, but you can't learn algebra by listening and taking multiple choice question tests.  Homework teaches discipline.  And for those of you who don't see the purpose of learning algebra, yes, you will use it later in life.  It will just be disguised as something that doesn't look like algebra.  Guess what, I'm not just talking about high school.

Undergraduate level is still learning the basics.  I understand there are a lot of people who have to work to pay for college, I was one of them, but this is where you get the foundation.  I'm not saying it will be easy.  My only suggestion is that if this is a problem, choose an institute of learning that understands you are not a full-time student.

Graduate level is a completely different story.

As a grad student you should have already have the basics.  Grad school should add to your knowledge.  Focus it and enhance it.  I don't think giving us tons of homework and having us work on group projects really adds a lot to our learning experience.  I think there is a certain amount of preparation that is necessary, but I am long past 1 + 1 = 2.  As for group projects, I enjoy working with one other person.  One person gives you a different point of view.  Any more than that and it becomes an exercise in trying to mesh schedules in order to meet.  On top of that, the groups always feel artificial.  The idea behind group projects seems to be, you'll have to work in groups when you're out in the "real world".  Sure, it's true that I have group projects at work, but the group dynamics are very different.

Oh well, I'm not going to solve the world's problems today and I have a group project that I have to finish.  'Til next time.

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