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Spring 2004
The Education Imperative
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Spring 2004
The Education Imperative
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An Instructor with a Student
In the Classroom
Photography by Mark Berndt

Q: What role does the university have in helping to ensure that young people are prepared for higher education?

A: UCLA's greatest contributions to the future of our region's youngsters are made through fulfilling our threefold mission of teaching, research and service. For instance, UCLA researchers lead the way in the development of evaluation and testing techniques, and in so doing help to improve the quality of education and learning nationwide.

Many other discoveries are made at UCLA that enhance what is known about childhood development. Scholars and practitioners are able to share new knowledge with students, parents, teachers and K-12 administrators, who often incorporate our findings into their daily life and work.

One excellent illustration is the recent rise in elementary math scores in the Los Angeles Unified School District. In part, we can credit improved teacher training, specifically a professional-development program in mathematics instruction created at Center X, which is within UCLA's Graduate School of Education & Information Studies.

We believe that K-12 outreach is an important way to help prepare students and ensure access to higher education. Outreach is really college preparation, not only for the students but also for their parents and in building the capacity of K-12 schools.

The future of UCLA, the University of California and the state are inextricably linked — we all are stakeholders in California's education system. In fact, about 95 percent of UC and UCLA undergraduates are California residents. The quality of education that students receive before they arrive on campus is of great importance to us.

Q: How do you determine what to teach?

A: We want our graduates to be well-rounded individuals who know some subject in depth and have a broad understanding of the world in which we live. This requires very practical and specific knowledge, as well as breadth of knowledge. But how much depth and how much breadth?

While we have an obligation to provide the kind of training that will enable our alumni to succeed in the marketplace of commerce, we have an even greater obligation to ensure that they will succeed in the marketplace of ideas. A bachelor's degree is not primarily a vocational degree (although there are some exceptions). It's really 'education for the next step.'

The specific knowledge and skills acquired at the university may or may not be directly applicable to that first job; but, even if they are, they're not likely to carry any successful person beyond the first few years. As always, the most important thing to learn at the university is how to learn.

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