Be thankful for what you’ve got

I was recently getting to know Deniz, a young engineer who’s been crashing next door, in yet another ambush-a-Russian interrogation session.  Deniz spent two months studying English at Indiana University Bloomington and said that one of the best things the U.S. has going for it is the higher education system. 

In Russia, professors rarely provide syllabi and often run class on a day-to-day basis, often doing whatever they feel is appropriate at the moment.  The upside is they’re more willing to respond to a class’s particular needs.  The downside is it can be damn confusing.

In America, Deniz was surprised to find that it was only too easy to figure out what the homework was on any given day.  Also startling was the fact that attendance and participation throughout the semester is a requirement for success.  Back in the motherland, grades are based almost exclusively on the final exam (traditionally oral), with the result that students hang out and drink for the rest of the semester, he said.

Sounds like fun, but you don’t learn as much under the Russian system, according to Deniz.  Which is great to hear after all those stats about how American students lag behind the rest of the developed world.

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