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What The Hell Do We Know?

calfootball2012calfootball2012 - 90 replies20 threads Junior Member
As I was studying for a test today (at home), I heard some people making noise, shouting and laughing stupidly....talking like they were from "da hood". So I looked outside my window and saw some kids from the local high school (my old school) walk by. They looked like juniors/seniors and most of the group looked like the typical jockey, preppy, cheerleader type that smoked weed under the bleachers during school (low academic standard kids).

I though to myself "these guys probably screw up in school and most likely don't know ****" ....or something to that effect. But after I though about what had just run through my mind, it seems like I don't really know that much s hit either (not applicable s hit anyway).
Sure, I may know how to do math better than them, or know US history better, or know more biological concepts, or understand organic chemistry better but does that really make me "smarter" than people who don't know that?

A majority of the concepts that I've learned in my post-high school education have been vague and inapplicable to the real world. What can an individual really do with the knowledge of integrating an elementary function, knowing when the civil war ended, describing a watered down version of the Lac Operon, or writing a basic Friedel-Crafts Mechanism? What can I really contribute to the world with all of these concepts when I don't plan on knowing most (if any) of them in the next 5 years?

Sure, they may help in answering questions on jeopardy, but why am I learning this stuff again? what can I do that a high school kid with a 2.0 can't?
It's not like I've actually learned anything significant about these concepts that couldn't be obtained by a 2 minute google search or a scan of a relevant section in a wikipedia article (which I do around 40% of the time anyway to translate my professor or the book).

I feel like by coming to university, I'm only aware that there are much bigger and more complex concepts out there, ones that I will be unlikely to ever grasp. It's been a humbling experience and it's shown me that the brilliant professionals in these fields (from CS to psychology), the one's who actually do understand the complex concepts, are practically invisible to the lay public who form their uneducated opinions on issues with less knowledge than even me.

Anyone else feel the same way?
edited November 2010
17 replies
Post edited by calfootball2012 on
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Replies to: What The Hell Do We Know?

  • LiquidusLiquidus 752 replies58 threads Member
    Are you actually questioning the usefulness of going to college or are you just musing?

    Your thoughts are correct in the sense that most of what you are learning in college won't be applicable to whatever you'll be doing after you graduate. However, college isn't just about teaching you need to know for your future career. It's not just about acquiring knowledge per se, but about the process of acquiring knowledge. Learning to problem solve and think analytically is applicable to anything you'll do after graduation. Also, realizing how little you know is a good thing.
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  • Batman17Batman17 3041 replies180 threads Senior Member
    Agree with both posts. I had similar thoughts last night as I was walking back from a party. lol.
    But seriously on a personal note, my GSI told my section that he did not care if we know what the material is about, but he wanted us to learn how to solve problems/think critically. And I thought that this was a pretty good description of what my college experience has been like. I mean most of the lower divs I have taken did not present a ton of new material (nor expand on the old ones).
    My problem is that if this is the point of college, then I do not feel like Berkeley is up to par. I know that there's good and bad professors at every college, but I feel ridiculous when I have to quickly pray before the start of each semester to have a professor and a GSI who can teach (or actually care about teaching) and not just take the easy route by summarizing textbooks/doing workbook problems without explanations.
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  • CalBear2009CalBear2009 574 replies12 threads Member
    @calfootball2012: "Hoc unum scio me nihil scire." - Socrates (The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing). This is the original "The older I get, the less I know" quote (in western philosophy anyway). You arrived at it through your own reflection. Impressive. (No sarcasm intended).
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  • clueless2400clueless2400 436 replies41 threads Member
    I agree. I'm out.
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  • caviliercavilier 408 replies7 threads Member
    To some college is about is about critical thinking and the life of the mind. To others, it is about getting vocational training.

    If you wanted vocational training, you probably should have chosen a different major. Personally, I hope to make enough for the people who depend on me, but granted that I would not trade my passion (physics) for anything.
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  • flutterfly_28flutterfly_28 1451 replies64 threads Senior Member
    Hey Batman here's something random and interesting for you - Ratemyprofessor.com average professor ratings

    Berkeley: 3.37
    Harvard: 2.95
    Stanford: 3.0
    Princeton: 2.85
    Yale: 2.59
    UCLA: 2.91

    I don't see why one school would have more biased ratings than the other. Seems like the more negative kids are at Berkeley anyway.

    Also - MIT: 2.33
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  • LeftistHominidLeftistHominid 3541 replies265 threads Senior Member
    @CalBear2009
    That's Latin (specifically classical Latin), Socrates was an ancient Greek who predated classical Latin. That isn't him, might be a Roman writing about what he said, but that isn't quite the same.

    Also, it means more so "I know, this alone, that I know nothing"
    (I am a Latin minor, I feel obliged to correct this, also I am procrastinating on my Georgics thought paper right now...)

    I am guessing from the first post that OP is a biology major.
    One major fact of the life a biology major, is that we need to deal with the fact that biology majors aren't really directly applicable to the real world. Unless you have a master's or a doctorate of some sort, there aren't very many places to apply your degree.
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  • MechRocketMechRocket - 1759 replies216 threads Senior Member
    are you pre-med? it sounds like it. if you were planning on going onto research, i doubt you would feel the same way. an undergrad education gives future scientists the basic foundations of knowledge that they will need before going onto grad school.
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  • CalBear2009CalBear2009 574 replies12 threads Member
    @LeftishHominid: Thanks for the catch. I was quoting from Cicero I believe... speaking about Socrates.
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  • LeftistHominidLeftistHominid 3541 replies265 threads Senior Member
    I am not premed, I am in the process of applying to graduate school in physical anthropology (which is basically a field of biology).

    I was talking about people who are trying to settle with a B.A./B.S. in biology. A bachelor's alone won't really take you far other than being a lab tech or a high school biology teacher. You need a Masters or Doctorate to be able to do much with a biology degree.
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  • Batman17Batman17 3041 replies180 threads Senior Member
    Well, my opinion is mine and you're certainly not going to change it by citing facts from a site that can have--and usually does have--skewed ratings because of 1) non-responsive/people who don't rate on the site, 2) kids who absolutely hate teachers because they are not doing well and 3) kids who absolutely love teachers because they give a lot of As. Oh and one last caveat: the number of professors listed at Berkeley versus those other schools.
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  • JBeak12345JBeak12345 428 replies24 threads Member
    I'm not changing your mind, batman, but I'd just like to point out that your reasons aren't very solid. Your 3 reasons exists for all schools. In fact, your 2nd and 3rd reason are essentially the same, and I believe Cal has a lower mean GPA and gives out fewer A's than other schools that flutterfly showed. As a result, your reasons actually support that Berkeley's professors aren't so bad at teaching.

    Whether we have bad professors at teaching or not, I have no idea because I haven't experienced professors from other schools and neither have you.
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  • Waiting4CollegeWaiting4College 1772 replies194 threads Senior Member
    uhhh JBeak, unless Im mistaken here (or unless you PMed B17 and he was responding to that here) I think B17 was referring to flutter's post, seeing as the post above me is your first in this thread. lol wut just happened here?

    yeah. props to OP-I think about this everyday. here all of us area supposedly paying for a world-class education but five years from now, I dont think my sum total of knowledge is gonna be that much greater than a CC grad's might be or any random person seeing as how little I remember of classes i took only a semester ago.

    what we consider knowledge and an education is really just a minuscule of whats out there. boggles my friggin mind every day.
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  • MechRocketMechRocket - 1759 replies216 threads Senior Member
    @LH: i was talking to the OP.
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  • flutterfly_28flutterfly_28 1451 replies64 threads Senior Member
    @Waiting: read it all again, JBeak was referring to my post and to batman's reply

    And thanks JBeak, I agree with everything you said. Not trying to convince Batman, that would have probably been a lost cause even 2 years ago lol. Just putting the ratings out there because I thought they were surprising too.
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  • Waiting4CollegeWaiting4College 1772 replies194 threads Senior Member
    oh oops flutter i see now.

    i mean, your stats say otherwise, but i feel like quality of instruction/satisfaction with instructors here IS pretty lacking compared to other schools though. i mean, sure there are a few professors who are far and in between with exceptional teaching ability, but the vast majority (esp for lower Div sciences are-lets face it-not interested in teaching and hardly hesitate to hide their disinterest in their voice). if there are smart students here, i think it is because of their innate intelligence, own hard work, ability to self-teach or find other creative ways of learning material-and not because of the way Berkeley professors teach concepts or whatever. i dont personally think all berkeley professors present material in any original manner that makes me feel like i wouldnt have learnt the same bio or physics at say, UCSB. but ya, i guess there's lots of factors to consider here.
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  • flutterfly_28flutterfly_28 1451 replies64 threads Senior Member
    Well apparently professors aren't much better at teaching at HPYMS. I tried looking for any school with better ratings and found that Davis did.

    Teaching quality not correlated with ranking? I'll believe that. Pretty sure Batman wasn't referring to Davis as one of the places he'd rather be at in his initial post though.
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