The Education Imperative
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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
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
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.