A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: Jon Morrow regrets getting straight A's
Previous entry: Janice Turner on how Tim rich-but-dim beats Kevin poor-but-smart
Sunday December 16 2007

The Fat Man on a Keyboard writes about outdated attitudes towards mature students:

The Torygraph gets worked up about University Challenge.

Apparently, it “stands accused of neglecting undergraduates in favour of teams stacked with “ringers”, in the shape of mature and graduate students”.

I have news for them, most mature students are undergraduates and there are now more of them than the kids straight from school. ...

I was myself a sort-of mature student at my second university, Essex.  What made me still immature was that I was still very immature, but what made me mature was that I had made a conscious decision, myself, to be there, and I had a pretty clear idea of what I was trying to accomplish.  And I was busy accomplishing it.  (What that was is beside my point here.  Maybe later.) I met other mature students at Essex, and they all had this same quality, of self-directedness, of having decided to be there, of having a plan which they were following.  The academics loved us, because we were making proper use of them and of their efforts and of their expertise.  We aggressed on their various agendas, and they heaved sighs of relief, because it was no longer up to them to rouse us from apathy.  Meanwhile the students who had simply idled into university like cargo wagons being shunted along rails by outside forces - their parents, “society”, and so on - were, as often as not, wasting their time and lots of other people’s money.

So, I wholly agree with the Fat Man’s take on this, and look forward to the day when all students at universities are mature.  Not necessarily in the sense of being old, but in the sense of having decided to be there.

In the same spirit, the Fat Man is disgusted at how the government has been cutting back on adult education.  Being a (free market, low/no taxes, etc.) libertarian, I am prejudiced in favour of public spending cuts, and I don’t regard cutting state funded adult education as an attack on adult education as such, especially not in the age of the internet.  Likewise, I actually favour the recent increase in the cost to students of higher education, because I think it will cause students to ask themselves: Do I really want/need to be doing this?  Prices do that, I think.  I think making students feel the price of what they are doing and how they are living makes them more, in a word, mature.

But, it is important to me not to link only to - and not to be read here only by - people with identical political prejudices to mine.