Small Schools: The Salvation of Higher Education
Our system of higher education is in dire straits. The problems abound: school name recognition is a higher priority than curriculum and classroom size; teachers are underpaid; students do not want to read, write or exert themselves in anyway; specialization has pushed the concept of well-roundedness to the brink of extinction; libraries and football stadiums drive up tuition costs yet do little to prevent the ever increasing levels of illiteracy and innumeracy among our undergraduates; there is too much focus on research and publication among faculty members and too little attention paid to pedagogy. The abundance of athletic scholarships and the paucity of academic awards have sent a clear message to our high schools and middle schools: “Beef up your sports programs, make them your top priority.” Why are we surprised that our undergraduates begin college lacking the basic academic skills that they need to succeed in their studies? We have created a system that does not reward academic excellence. We need to return to something closer to the little red school house of pioneer America. We need faculty interacting closely with our students both inside and outside of the classroom. We do not need student centers, auditoriums, and high-rise dormitories. We have too many buildings and too little education. We need intimate, personal schools. Let’s think round numbers: pay 10 teachers $100,000 each to teach all the courses in a school of 100 students. We’ll charge the students $10,000 a year in tuition. These teachers will teach, coach, and mentor their students, and they will review, train, and challenge their fellow faculty members. We need to deliver the goods: well-educated students, who enter the workforce without the shackles of college-loan debt, and still impress their employers. They will be our champions and our proof that the model works.
Keywords: Small Schools, Higher Education, Mentoring, Tuition Costs, Name Recognition, Rankings, Classroom Size, Pedagogy, Research and Publication
Adjunct Professor, Philosophy Department, William Paterson University