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If I had the opportunity to own and teach a college, this is how it would work:
Only training. Training for skills that can be used immediately. We would take apprenticeships and use them on everything. Let's use engineering as a good example.
Class starts on a sunny morning at 8am. Everyone walks into a shop full of CNC machines, laser cutters, drill presses, 3D printers, and every hand tool you can imagine. There is a bookshelf containing information on how to build almost anything, and the shop is filled with computers to look up things online. The professor walks in along with several TAs, and says something very simple. He presents us with a blueprint for an upcoming Ford F150, and says only one thing:
"This is the upcoming 2020 Ford F150, and we need an engine. Everyone in this class has 6 months to design this engine. We need it to fit with WXY specifications and be ready to go by Z date. The TAs will be happy to help you with any questions. We have a stack of books in the corner and of course there is always google. Go". Suddenly, the class scrambles to build the engine. Nobody knows the first thing about building a car engine, but that's okay. They don't have to.
These students have access to every piece of information they need to build this engine. they can ask TAs, they have books to read, and the internet is always at their disposal. There are no formal classroom settings and teachers, but this way the information has to be truly ingested and used in a way no test or exam could ever possibly prepare a student for, the real world.
Tests do not help me build a car engine. Exams do not help me write the next billion-dollar app. Quizzes do not prepare me to be a content creator, and essays do not prepare me to be a journalist. But you know what does? Actually doing the damn thing for real! Tests are nice, but saying taking a test on accounting is just like doing accounting in the real world is like saying taking a test on relationships is the same as getting a Girl/Boyfriend. They just aren't even comparable.
Now would this engine ever be used in the real world? Probably not. chances are a team of well trained engineers can beat out a team of 60 ignorant students any day, but it's really the principle of the method for learning. the fact is after this engine is built, these kids will now know how to build an engine better than any kid coming out of a standard 4 year college, and for them it only took 6 months. Now do they know how to do anything else other than build an engine? Not really. but I would argue that the same 4 year engineering degree put's you in the same spot. Even after one graduates, they still have to learn on-the-job training and skills just like before, except this time you have a very expensive fancy piece of paper.
to be fair, some college classes are like this. Senior school projects are good examples of this. My problem is that if my goal is to build the next iPhone, I will learn any chemistry and calculus along the way. Everything else can be learned as I try to solve the problem rather than all at once in a school setting.
I don't know about the rest of you, but this is how I learned how to build my business CircleTech. When i started, I didn't know the very first thing about PCI express, SATA, LGA vs PGa sockets, and ATX Motherboards. I also didn't even have a vague idea of how the US tax code worked, so I taught it to myself. I currently am teaching myself marketing so I can build an ecommerce website, and I am teaching myself about how to rent out property to run my business. NONE of this school has taught me a lick of, and I have plans to scale this into a full business with employees. Why on earth did I spend 12 years in school?
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That sound great, but personally, I'd like to know some theory and background before getting started. That doesn't mean I'm not thinking about how this concept and that theory applies to building an F150 engine while learning, but I think it would be better to start building after understanding how the engine works and what might be done to improve it. Otherwise, I think you'd have a class that either reinvents the wheel in 6 months, or is on the right track with nothing completed in 6 months (Not that that is bad, but if the class just learns what should be done, what difference is there between this idea and a normal class?).
I kinda agree with you and kinda don't. I think in general, less focus (and grading scale) should be placed on written assignments, homework, and tests. The point of school is a set time and place to learn, and so the fact that most of the effort is focused on time spent out of class, there is a fundamental problem. I feel some teachers and institutions are essentially treating HW and written assignments as a way to accomplish the same learning but without the teacher putting any effort in or any extra hours. HW is being treated like an excuse why we didn't learn anything in class. My problem is with the time management, not necessarily the concept of doing a written assignment. Tests are still necessary, but more as a teaching guideline. if you take a test and most of the class is not getting exponents questions right, then you need to go back and reteach exponents. The test itself (depending on the subject) can still be a fair judge of competency. But it cannot be the whole story. While I don't like the home aspect of homework, assignments are still an excellent way to learn and reinforce material. In heavily labor-oriented fields like you're talking, it may not be quite as useful, but it can still help reinforce material. And in more math/science-oriented fields, such as you mentioned accounting, reinforcing and testing the knowledge is extremely helpful in the teaching process. I'm still on the fence with essays, though that's more my personal distaste with them.