Letter to the editor: Education more than memory exercise

Adrian Jenkins

I must confess, I read the editorial “Online class limits college adventure” in print and “Online education leaves students wanting” online with some sadness. As a faculty member at Iowa State, I am proud of the university’s efforts to make education available to as many Iowans as possible. We are the land-grant institution of our state, and we have a duty to Iowa to educate as many capable and qualified students as possible, even if these students do not have easy access to the physical facilities of Iowa State. I hope that in the future, Iowa State makes such courses even more available to students in rural parts of Iowa who might not have the money to move from home, or the time to commute daily.

Even more than this, I am distressed at your opinion of the education received at Iowa State (or anywhere else, for that matter). Your quote that, “education is about rote memorization and recitation — or regurgitation … of facts” is one of the most pessimistic (if unintended) critiques of education I have had the displeasure of reading. I would argue that true education has little to nothing to do with this. In any case, if my personal education ends up being nothing more than memorization and regurgitation, where comprehension has no real value, why does it matter from where I get these facts? I certainly don’t need a expert in the field to tell me — I might as well read it on the back of a cereal box.

I certainly value my personal education more than a mere exercise in memory — in fact, I would feel pity for anyone who did not share such a value. And I believe that if it is in our capability, we should make this opportunity available to as many people as we can, including those who cannot be physically present on campus.