Friday, June 26, 2009

Fact Checking Sarah Haskins

I normally love Sarah Haskins' segments on Current TV. (I do post them here almost every week.) The one this week about Ricki Lake's new show Charm School was pretty good, but I have one factual complaint. The beginning of the video depicts Sarah asking a woman to "quilt" while she is holding a crocheted blanket and knitting needles. It's a bizarre conflation of different hobbies. Maybe it's insignificant, but my mom, who actually owned a fabric store for 25 years, would probably disagree. Please, Sarah Haskins, try to keep your crafts straight.

Friday, June 12, 2009

More Emphasis on Study Abroad?

I was surprised when the House passed legislation to expand the number of students who study abroad. Study abroad programs, as Campus Progress has written before, are programs that vary widely in standards. All too often a study abroad program is an excuse to travel and hasn't proven any kind of added value to a four-year education. There seems to be an assumption that studying abroad has some kind of intrinsic value. But study abroad programs are often fairly expensive, usually on par with a semester of schooling -- sometimes even thousands of dollars more.

There is an argument that encounters with other cultures can be of value, but programs like study abroad often don't supplement that experience with the pricey classes that program tuition provides. Especially if the student doesn't have fluency with the local university's language, it would be almost impossible to have a valuable academic experience beyond language learning. It can be valuable to learn languages, but one could almost take the money spent on tuition to take a semester off to travel in that country and experience the culture.

I'm not entirely opposed to traveling to other countries or even studying abroad. I just think there needs to be more study about the kinds of education such programs should reasonably be expected to provide, and we need to develop some kind of standards for these programs. Otherwise this bill might just be a waste of money.

Yet more Sarah Haskins Hilarity

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