Problems in higher ed – a blast from the past

In Donald Crummey’s contribution to The Missionary Factory in Ethiopia, he writes of Birru Petros, a bright young Ethiopian man who was sent to Europe to study in 1858. He loved it at first, but eventually left after several years when the quality of instruction deteriorated. A letter he sent detailing his troubles sounds like it could have been written yesterday. He complains how the school is staffed by student teachers “who do not even know how to teach” and “two principals who do not like to teach.” He also comments, “Since they want to be successful with collective money from people by saying that an Abyssinian youth is studying in their school, I do not think they will discharge me soon.”

Sound familiar? Grad students teaching all the classes, lazy professors who like research but hate teaching, and a diverse student body maintained for political correctness points and fundraising. And this was over 150 years ago! Apparently, nothing is new under the sun once again.