Letters to the Editor

Assembly line learning

Editorial Page Editor Jim Boren's Jan. 7 column suggesting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger give high priority to fixing state schools, and similar previous editorials continue to overlook teacher education curriculum, and the type of students in these programs.

Example: California State University, Fresno's Liberal Studies Program contains numerous introductory courses, but avoids deeper subject matter. Thus students never experience the critical thinking required in any of the arts and sciences. Increasingly, introductory courses are taught online and/or to large enrollments, requiring more use of multiple-choice exams. Both situations produce poor outcomes.

Couple that with observations by faculty teaching these students, and one learns that far too many are the weakest students at the university, plus their attitude toward learning is not inspiring.

Many express disdain at subject matter and course requirements. A typical statement is: Why do I need to learn this? I am going to teach fourth grade, and don't need to know any math, science or language arts beyond the fourth grade material.

Their results on state subject matter content exams, plus their writing skills, leaves much to be desired. But don't worry, with budget-busting doctoral programs, the Save Mart Center and Campus Pointe, Fresno State will create Welty's New California.

Robert Merrill