Happy new academic year to my students, and to whoever else might happen upon this post. If you are a student of mine, I especially want to affirm you: the URL for this site may appear on your syllabus, but you’re otherwise not required to visit here. If you’re here, then, it’s because you have some inclination toward going above and beyond what is asked of you. That trait–something in you that no assessment test will ever be able to measure–will nevertheless stand you in good stead as few other traits or abilities will, and for years after your days of formal education are past.
I am a couple of weeks late in getting this post up; the semester got up and running (it’s been good, so far), but the work of doing that and some family illnesses at home have cut into spare time for writing here. As it happens, though, the work in class that I’m most proud of so far seems to me to run counter to the implications of the assertion in the image you see here. We’ve done precious little thus far that overtly prepares you for work, much less prepares you as we would prepare intelligent machines for the work they do, and I’m quite proud of this fact: this past week, we’ve looked at some paintings and talked about some poems in our Comp I classes, and in Comp II we’ve talked about rhetorical appeals. The rest of the semester, once we begin working on writing and research projects, will indeed have some value to you in your future careers and lives away from work; but, again, I won’t be training you as though you are machine-learning algorithms. There are two pretty simple, obvious reasons for that: you already possess such an algorithm (though we still don’t quite understand how it works); and, for that matter, you’re already a far superior information processor, that even the fastest computers can only begin to approach in ability. There’s also a third, more existential reason: You are, or should be, more than the work you will be hired to do.
It’s for these reasons that the assertion that accompanies the image is both deeply weird and more than a little lacking in awareness of what a good education should do for students.