FEd August 1995 Newsletter -Aug 95: letter from Harvey Kaplan

August 1995



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Dear Stan Jones,

Re your Spring '95 editorial:

It is obvious that one must take students as one finds them. Otherwise they will learn little or nothing. However this leaves unexplored the (in my opinion) usually buried question concerning the need to not dilute the college experience from what it was in the "good old days". I do not believe that students are more or less capable now than before, nor that the important factors concerning learning such as sinking in time in each subject at each level of sophistication have been reduced by modern educational technology.

One may then ask: At what time do we start the four years of traditional college? When I entered City College of New York in 1941 I lacked background in algebra and was required to take "College Algebra" without credit, with the implication that I might need more than four years to get a Bachelor's Degree. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that something similar should be done today. What seems to be lacking is the realization of the problem, and the will and money to face up to it.

It would probably take a conference to amplify the above and to define the problem and possible solutions more carefully. Not taking that trouble makes us resemble some well-known large birds.


Harvey Kaplan
Syracuse University

Stan Jones responds