Some of you may know that I am a student at the University of Phoenix here in Albuquerque. I am what is referred to as a "mature learner". I guess they are comparing the mature learner to many of the immature learners that are students at this University. I realized, that at 61 years of age and going back to college, that it was going to be a new and different atmosphere for me. The UoP is a night school format combined with self study and I am a member of a learning team. I attend a class one night a week for 4 hours. So the concept is good for a working person or, like me, a mature learner. I don't know why they just don't call a spade a spade and call me an old grouchy fart that should have gotten his degree 30 or 40 years ago. but you know it is all about marketing with a for profit, corporate America, form of higher education. Their format allows a person to get their bachelors degree in 3 1/2 years instead of the customary 4 years in a full time university.
I am in a class of about 20 students. Like I said I am 61 years of age and the next closest class member is probably in her late 30's which in fact her dad and I were the same age. So you know I got that daddy image going on or in some cases granddaddy image and I guess for some it could be great grandaddy image. God I am as old as dirt. The rest of the class is in their mid to late twenties. Hell I even have 20 years on some of the teachers.
So you might be able to recognize that there is a vast generational difference between me and my classmates. I must say that my classmates all have their hearts in the right place but I gotta tell ya some of 'em have their heads up their ass. For some it is a very dark place to be. Then on the other hand there are some (a few) classmates that are articulate, have a desire to learn and truly want to get something out of their edumacation. Hopefully some of that will rub off on some of the others. I have my doubts.
Did I tell you that I am 61 years old? I was last in a classroom in 1967 when I graduated from Coquille High School (Coquille, Oregon). Holy cow Batman that was 43 years ago. I wonder how many of the 100 kids that I graduated with are still kickin'. Actually there are quite a few. If any of you graduated from Coquille High I say howdy you Red Devil. Anyway back to the subject at hand. I wasn't some kind of brainyack at school. I graduated that is about all I can say about it. I will say that compared to what is going on in our education system today that I received a pretty good education. But I really didn't like going to school. Oh sure I liked the sports and friends and by the time I was a senior I was a journey meat cutter so I figured that I would go on working in the meat business. So college really never entered into the picture.
Even though I never went on to college I still had a desire to learn. Many things I have learned have been self-taught, experienced, read about, participated in and I was always curious about the different aspects of life. But that brings us up to today and my experience (so far) at the University of Phoenix. I am sure that many of my classmates have no idea what the University of Phoenix logo represents (a mythical bird). Well I am making an assumption and it may be something that I will have to inquire about some day.
Now I want to make it clear that I am making my comments based on the interactions of just a handful of students. I also want to make it clear that the public school system in New Mexico, particularly Albuquerque is abhorrent. The graduation rate here is around thirty percent. I look at this experience as a microcosm of a symptomatic failure of our education system in this country. There are fingers pointed at the federal government, state governments, local school districts, teachers unions, school administrations, local politicians and the list goes on and on. But you know when you point a finger at someone there are three fingers pointing back at you. Yes it is our fault, we the citizens of this country are to blame for letting our education system get into these dire straits. Until we as a people find value in educating our children so that they will become productive citizens it will remain the same. If it remains the same our country is doomed to become just another third world country. Look around it is slowly becoming that.
As I sit in class and listen to these young people I am constantly amazed at how complacent, ignorant and uncaring about what is going on around them. There does not seem to be any concern for their fellow man in Albuquerque or anywhere else in the world. They seem to be unaware of history beyond the last 24 hours of their life. With their faces focused on their laptops, cell phones and whatever other electronic device that they possess it is apparent that there is no rhyme or reason to look up and see what is going on around them. I shake my head at times at what comes from their mouths about our government, social security, welfare, the poor. the foreclosure debacle, our health care system and the list goes on and on. Here is a little gem of thought from one student recently. This student is not stupid, ex-military, articulate, has resources to find information so there really is no excuse. I don't remember how it came out in class but the student made the comment that polio was caused from a sugar deficiency. I about fell out of my chair save for the fact that my jaw hitting the table preventing me from doing so. The other appalling part was that the instructor did not correct the student. So being the grouchy ol' putz that I am I did. I informed him that I was there at the time and it is my generation that is responsible for wiping out polio in this country. I also informed him that I grew up with a kid that had polio and sugar had nothing to do with it. I also informed him that we were given a polio vaccine that was administered in a sugar cube. He wanted to argue the point with me but I told him that I was not going to do battle with a mental midget. He was to get me the information that supported his argument but I have yet to see it.
Well that is it for now. There is more and I expect that there will be even more to scribe about as the year goes on.I have entered into my fourth five week class which is the humanities (oh the humanity....remember the Hindenburg). If you are a "mature learner" at a college I would like to hear about your experiences. Please leave a comment.
Until we meet again
May the good Lord take a likein' to ya