During my college career I’ve had the good fortune to be taught by a number of high quality professors. Some were very well versed in their respective fields and could impart to their students a continued interest in the subject. Some were zany, eccentric characters, altogether compelling and inspiring in their devotion to their areas of expertise. One or two were simply laid-back and fun to study under. Indeed, all education – when approached in a positive manner – can be enjoyable. Over the last three years, however, I’ve perceived what appears to be a recurring problem with university-level schooling: impersonality.
This significant fault in the educational system may be attributed, in part, to ever-increasing class sizes and the ready adaptation we must make to new technologies. With regard to class size, I’ve taken many university-level courses with a register of well over one hundred students (the largest class I ever took was packed with some 250). Someone I used to go to high school with told me that he actually had an intro class with an enrollment of 650 students.
Surely, we can all agree that developing a rapport with one’s instructor is an important part of the learning process. It gives the student a better understanding of what the instructor want from pupils and of how and why they use the methods that they use. With a 100-plus-size class, however, such relationships are impossible. How can students hope to become even somewhat acquainted with their professor when, say, 300 of their fellow classmates are all clamoring for his attention? They can’t. And so everyone enrolled in that course is deprived of the greater clarity offered by a personal relationship.
The other element (technology) is perhaps more to blame for this distancing of teacher from student than even the largest class sizes. Through email and the Internet, it became conceivable (and soon preferable) for a professor to forego direct contact with his students. All he has to do now is click on his email link and indifferently type a few words onto a monitor. With that, his job is done. He has imparted something lasting, instilled an intangible greatness. The funny thing is, universities actually seem to encourage such aloof methods of communication. And so, once again, the student suffers.