To survive against competition every university and every college has to pretend that it gives something modern, advanced and immediately marketable. But is it possible to give advanced courses to students who are ignorant in elementary mathematics? Of course not. What to do? Very simple! Emasculate the course by excluding everything non-trivial, reduce the students’ task to applying ready-made recipes without understanding—and you will survive and succeed. Your pretensions that you teach something advanced will allow the students to pretend that they are educated, and this will allow the firms and departments that hire them to pretend that they hire educated people. But at some point this chain of pretensions will have to break.
Toom is talking here about his frustrations in teaching “Business Calculus” to college students, but the curious thing is that his remarks could just as easily be said about teaching grammar to middle school students.
Other articles by Andrei Toom can be found here.