Tom has a blog post about whether you should go to college. Overall, it’s funny and pretty good and he says pretty much what I think about the subject. The only thing I take issue with is this paragraph at the end.
College should produce an educated, literate man or women who are capable of clear expression in English, who are well read in a spectrum of literature, who possess a grasp of Western civilization, who have learned at least one foreign language (no, not Spanish, one that’s in demand), and who are competent in at least a baseline amount of social and scientific knowledge.
The emphasized part is mine because that’s what I want to focus on. Pretty much every college in America fails on that account. I’ve met people from all sorts of schools: Ivy League schools, wannabe Ivies, state schools, and everything in between. Some schools have a foreign language requirement; some don’t. The point is this: to this day, I have met maybe five people, if I’m generous, who have successfully learned a foreign language to a decent degree at university. It just doesn’t happen that often. Foreign languages are hard (I’m the first to admit this) and you have to really, really want to learn one in order to successfully do it.
Basically, we need a major overhaul in university curricula in this country. And the first thing I would do (were I in charge of such a thing) is stop having TAs teach classes. (The second thing I’d do is make the curriculum intellectually rigorous—there’s no slacking off in Natasha’s world, you know?)