"Yes, we can!"

Här kommer nu det tredje inlägget i blogg-serien om utlandsstudier i Oklahoma, U.S.A..
Denna gång bestämde vi oss för att intervjua Ron Andersen, vår lärare i kursen ”Principles of Organization and Management”, och vi frågade bland annat ut honom på skillnaderna mellan det amerikanska skolväsendet, och det svenska!Ron Andersen

How does your history look relative to your working experience?
I have a lot of experience, and I bring my personal experience with me as a teacher. I worked within manufacturing, healthcare and financial markets, and I have been a normal worker as well as a manager, so I have seen both sides of the fence . I bring this experience to the classroom, and hopefully I understand all the different issues because I have experienced them, and can relate them to the class discussion. It’s a lot more fulfilling to teach from that perspective, as opposed to never felt and experienced what I talk about.

What is your opinion about the American school system?
It worries too much about the bottom portion of the people. It need to focus more on energizing the top performers, cause then they will elevate all of the performers, including the bottom performance. At the college level, I think we live up to this, because the bottom performance just flunks and moves on. But pre college (elementary school) is another issue. My kids went to public schools, and I was not too excited about what was going on there. I think it is a little misguided in its purpose.

In Sweden we have a system where a person receives a sum of money as a grant from the government and the rest he or she can borrow to get by. This means that pretty much any person can go on to studying at a University. What do you think of this system, and do you think that the United States could adopt the same in the future, why/why not?
The American culture does not allow for it. You can’t force people in to college, because not everybody should go to college. There are a lot of different people and certain people don’t want to do certain things in life. You need to have a little more than that, some aggressiveness relative  to go to college, every person who really want to go to college can do it, in this country, trough scholarships, working and so on. I have not yet found one person who could not go to college, who really wanted it. When a person says that he can’t go to college it means one of a few things, he does not want to, he is not really trying, or he thinks it’s going to take too long.
If you open it up to too many people, with no threshold requirement you have a lot of people in school that does not want to be there, that’s the worst case scenario. I taught in California, where they had this mentality at the time, and it was really bad. They created a bigger monster than before. If people don’t want to go to college, they should not. The politicians have forced this system into action. These ideas that everybody is suppose to go to college or University I think is catastrophically for the system.

One thing that surprised us when we came here was that most of the exams and tests are very standardized and leaves a very small marginal for interpretation and judgment from the teacher in charge of the course. In Sweden, the majority of exams are constructed in a way were the grade is in the hands of the teacher and his or her judgment. What are your thoughts on this?
One of the problems I think is the sizes of the classes. With smaller classes you get more essays. It’s a choice of the professor, and it could also be a product of the business school environment. I try to put essay questions in every test, but multiple-choice is very easy to grade, you can’t get away from that.
We had a theory that it could have to do with the american legal-climate?
I think your right, but you could make the same argument about a multiple-choice question, is it a valid question and so on. But I think you are right, multiple choice stands a higher level of scrutiny and are more objective. I try to create a form of standard even for the essays, so I usually don’t have a lot of problems with it. Essays, for the most part, are very subjective and are problematic relative to scrutiny. But essays are very important in order for the student to organize their thoughts and express their knowledge.

What is your experience related to international students coming to OU for studies?
Every semester I have somewhere around 10-20 international students, from all over the world. Often I will pick and choose students to give a perspective of things, because the people living here in the middle of the country don’t really know what’s going on outside the states. The international students have some personal challenges, with the language and so on. I try to be sensitive to that when I ask questions. Here is the catch 22 though, the problem is I want to bring International student into the discussion, but the language barrier hinders the discussion sometimes. And I also don’t want to push too much. I don’t want them to believe I’m making fun of them. Some students are fluent, and some are not. I would like to have more interactions and discussions though, if I could choose.

Why should you, as an international student, come to Oklahoma and OU for studies?
You get the real Midwestern American feel. You don’t get that historical American feel of the culture on the coast or anywhere else, its unique here in Oklahoma. It’s not altered, it’s not changed, it’s pretty much what it is. If you really want a sense of attitude and perspectives from U.S.A., this is the place. It’s very few areas in the country where you can get that. People in the Midwest are also more caring and kind and are trying to do the right thing all the time. That is an interesting thing for international students to get a sense of. Its mutual benefits though, at the same time the American culture get a chance to stretch its boundaries in itself and experience other cultures and views.
Because you meet a lot of people that have had no interaction with people outside their state.
Also, the political atmosphere is completely different here. Our so-called liberals are very conservative with Swedish standards, even the liberals in California. And here in Oklahoma, a democrat is a conservative compared to other places in the country so the International student really get to experience the extremes, and I think that could be both interesting and beneficial for the student.

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