In the Basement of the Ivory Tower
At the colleges of last resort, the American ideal of equal opportunity for all
meets the reality that not everyone is suited for higher education. The students aren’t
seeking an education at Yale, Princeton or other Ivy League colleges. Instead, a college
of convenience is preferred. Professor X, an adjunct instructor, quarrels with the idea
that adjunct instructors at these schools act as academic assassin’s, crushing the reality of
unsuitable students as they give them failing grades.
Higher education is seen as the means to a more professional job and, ultimately
higher success. Professor X teaches adult education to adults returning to school after
various amounts of time away from school. Adults have been inspired by their families,
employers, or even the desire to go back for a higher education for a possible career
change, and colleges believe that the more educated people will profit both the
individual and society. The college location must be convenient so the student can
balance their home, work, and school lives. Students taking these required English
courses are optimistic the acquired knowledge and skills will pay off in future endeavors.
Professor X teaches students who often lack the basic fundamentals required to
successfully complete a college course. His students generally do not do well. They often
fail, sometimes repeatedly. Although initially enthusiastic and aspirant, his students are
soon overcome by the depth of work needed to complete these courses. Despite
lacking the writing and technical skills required to succeed in his English classes, they
ignore the assistance that is available to update these skills. The students’ failure is not
only theirs but also a failure of the educational system because it is either unwilling or
unable to recognize that college is not for everyone.
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