Economics, Education, and Critical Thinking: The Faculty Connection

While attending an online faculty meeting, I was asked about the changing roles of students and faculty. I thought I would share this response to changes in education and academics.

I think that the role of the faculty and students have changed equally. The students have graduated into a poor economy that leaves half of them unemployed despite thousands of dollars of student debt. 

On the flip side, academia has suffered budget cuts and tenured track jobs are difficult to get and rapidly disappearing as online education 
becomes the preferred mode of learning. 

I myself originally thought I would be in academia full time and now find that I am an independent contractor instead (composer/writer/artist). I find it ironic that many of my friends who chose to become band directors instead of composers because of job stability in education are now scrambling to find work while I have career success and job flexibility in the artistic field. 

Students and faculty need to work towards more skills-based learning while also incorporating the critical thinking skills that higher education allows. On one hand we have the issue of students just wanting to "buy" the degree without the work causing a decrease in true higher level thinking necessary in tomorrow's work force, and on the other hand our country is in desperate need of those skills that go beyond beyond the basics. Excellence is key, no matter the case, and once faculty and students can agree that the student who actively engages in higher critical thinking and excels at necessary career skills is necessary in the future economy of our country, we will continue to see the tug-and-war between quality and expediency of education.
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