Lectures, Textbooks, Academic Calendar, and Administration: An Agenda for Change
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In the mid-1700s, Samuel Johnson wrote, “Lectures were once useful; but now, when all can read and books are so numerous, lectures are unnecessary.” This chapter probes the many anachronisms that continue to characterize American higher education. Outdated modes of teaching and learning, an archaic academic calendar, out-of-control prices for textbooks and bloated administrations continue to drive up the cost of education while giving students less for their tuition dollars. Some close observers of these policies and practices go so far as to claim they are “unethical.” Others go even farther and accuse administrations of lying about their efforts to keep costs down. These anachronistic traditions have become costly distractions to students’ quest for a college education. This chapter describes these traditions and argues that their time has past and it is time for a change.