Re: What Degree Would You Get?

Subject: Re: What Degree Would You Get?
From: Stuart Selber <sselber -at- HUBCAP -dot- CLEMSON -dot- EDU>
Date: Sat, 8 Apr 1995 10:53:18 -0400

Gina says:

> The optative word in that last sentence being the word "hope."
> (Sorry -- couldn't resist the pun.) On a more serious note, if
> colleges and degrees were as powerful and important as we
> have been lead to believe, than why is experience a more heavily
> weighed factor when one is seeking employment? Yes, I'm all for
> education, and my sheep skin is hanging on the wall. However, I
> sweat buckets before the big doors starting opening up to
> me. I've also seen people with master's degrees who are frustrated
> as hell because they've slaved so hard to achieve something that
> is outdated in the blink of an eye. Case in point -- I graduated
> from one of the top ten journalism colleges in the nation and
> that was less than nine years ago. Back then we banged away on
> an archaic Wang system. Remember Wang?

I'm not going to completely disagree with Gina. She has said many good
things. Not to be too philosophical, but it seems like our notions
about education are too one way--that we enter a college program, and
are fed all the *right* information. I've always seen education as
more of a negotiaton between me and my interests and the faculty and
curriculum. True, many people need some help finding their way, and I
think most faculty know what the broad issues in the field are (sure,
some are in the dark). But most programs I know about are open-ended
in their thinking--they let students do the kinds of projects they
want, and let them shape their program. For example, in graduate
school I wrote every seminar paper on some aspect of hypertext, and
one grad student in the program handed in their comprehensive exams in
hypertext format (posing an interesting grading dilemma).

Perhaps the best things college-level programs can do is provide a
productive learning space--good computer labs, energetic faculty, an
open curriculum that allows students to pursue their interests, good
collaborations, intellectual and emotional support, internship and job
connections, co-op programs, guest speakers from local industry,
publishing opportunities, project-based learning. Seems impossible to
have a faculty that know about all facets of technical communication
across all industries. Better to have a faculty willing to support
what students want to do, and a faculty that also learns along the
way. I love working with the grad students here. They keep me sharp,
give me readings, challenge my thinking. It's a relationship we enter
into together--the study of technical communication. I expect them
to take some repsonsibility in nurturing this relationship, and they
expect the same of me.


Stuart A. Selber
Department of English
Clemson University 803-656-1677 (voice)
Strode Tower, Box 341503 803-656-1345 (fax)
Clemson, SC 29634-1503 sselber -at- hubcap -dot- clemson -dot- edu (MAPC Program/under major construction) (Clemson University)

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