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That’s Just Your Opinion

Several years back, when I was doing some software training at a company in Green Tree, we (the trainers) were all standing around the reception desk during the students’ morning break. Our supervisor came by (a former trainer, and an Ed major), and passed around a resume for us to look at as a potential hire. Everything about the resume was of no particular interest to me except the following two pieces of information: the applicant’s degree was from a public college of education, and the applicant’s GPA was 2.67. So I stated the obvious. I said that if I had graduated with an Education Degree, I would never admit to a 2.67 GPA. My boss and half a dozen coworkers were glaring at me. One of the trainers (M. Ed., PSU) said, “Why not?”

Shit.

Oh well – in for a penny, in for a pound. I explained that education majors have the lowest standardized test scores and the highest GPA’s of any major. And while grade inflation is bad in most departments at American colleges and universities, it is particularly egregious in public colleges of education. An Ed major with a B- probably could not even finish a real degree.

My mother was right. A career at the State Department was never in my future.

So now my boss and coworkers were glaring at me, and, before turning their backs, one of them (B. Ed., Pitt) said, “That just your opinion.” The rest nodded in quiet affirmation and walked away.

Now, to understand this, it really must be heard. It was not said in anger, more like dismissively. And the emphasis was not on the word “your.” It was on “just.” As in, I heard what you said, but it’s merely an opinion.

And there’s the crux of the biscuit. I was surrounded by seven people holding a total of eleven degrees, all of them in education, and not a single one of them was aware of the difference between a falsifiable statement and a non-falsifiable statement. Or, for you state school ed majors, a statement of fact and a statement of opinion. It was the sort of thing I learned in elementary school.

The other day, I posted rather a lengthy piece on why education costs so much, and was having an online conversation with the person who posted the original message that got me wound up in the first place. Eventually, this was posted to the discussion:

…i appreciate your view on this topic kevin but we will continue to just state our opinion..and believe the way we want…

I was not dealing in opinions, but rather facts. And facts are stubborn things. You can’t wish them away. Allan Bloom describes the problem succinctly:

There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.

And, if you are both curious and self-motivated, you can verify my statement about Ed majors, GPA’s, and test scores at the web site of the US Department of Education. It’s not just my opinion.

fiat lux!

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