The changing face of college classrooms

As the classroom gets older, author and professor Mike Rose calls for changes in curriculum and education policy.

Longtime author and UCLA education professor Mike Rose has been teaching “non-traditional” students for more than 30 years. In his latest book, “Back to School: Why Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Education,” Rose is adamant that an alternative path to higher education is fast becoming the norm, and it’s about time colleges — as well as policy-makers — adjust to that fact.  

“There’s a push right now from all over — government, economists, private business — for people to get more education and more training,” says Rose. “Yet we’re seeing these drastic budget cuts to adult schools, community colleges and state colleges. These are the very institutions that can provide the services everyone seems to think are so key to the nation’s success.”

But “Back to School” isn’t just focused on big-picture policy debates. Mining his vast experience in adult literacy, Rose challenges outdated theories that inform the nitty-gritty of curriculum development. Among many suggestions, he advocates an immersive approach to remedial education, which, ideally, respects the intelligence of students while helping them develop core skills along the way.

“So many of these courses are locked into an approach that has been shown again and again not to be effective. They believe that if people are struggling with writing, you have to break it down into its tiniest parts. So people are stuck doing very basic language tasks,” says Rose. “But the approach is too disembodied. We need to realize that just because folks might make spelling or verb tense mistakes, doesn’t mean they can’t deal with complex ideas. Let’s create a curriculum that’s rich in complex ideas, along with a lot of assistance in places where people need it.”


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