TED Talk Tuesday: Leslie Epstein, “College Students Know Nothing”

This is a hidden gem of a TED talk. With only 853 views, it’s hardly been touched (by TED standards, anyway). But in this eight-minute clip, BU professor Leslie Epstein dares to confront the grim reality of the nature of college education in America: namely, that college kids don’t know anything. And he’s right.

I attend Northeastern University, and experiential learning is our big selling point. Granted, I’m very glad to have had the co-op program to force me into internships I wouldn’t have been motivated to do had I gone to a different school. I like to think that I’m also learning about profound human truths and accomplishments (I’m taking Eastern Religion next semester, and I’m ridiculously excited about it). But at the same time, I’d always been hungrier for knowledge than many of my peers growing up, and was dubbed “Dictionary” on multiple occasions back in high school. A lot of the knowledge I’ve acquired, I’ve sought out myself.

Northeastern just got its largest donation ever, for the business school. The tangible skills that the business school can offer are fantastic. But I hope maybe someday my college – the College of Arts, Media, and Design – will get the same kind of recognition.

What do you think? Can universities strike a balance and offer both tangible skills and classical disciplines to all students?

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