I'm a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me. Things have changed since I started teaching. The vibe is different. I wish there were a less blunt way to put this, but my students sometimes scare me — particularly the liberal ones. Not, like, in a person-by-person sense, but students in general. The student-teacher dynamic has been reenvisioned along a line that's simultaneously consumerist and hyper-protective, giving each and every student the ability to claim Grievous Harm in nearly any circumstance, after any affront, and a teacher's formal ability to respond to these claims is limited at best.
In 1967, Ronald Reagan began a revolution in education by altering the scope and purpose of California's public universities: A higher education should prepare students for jobs. Full stop.
Screens generate distraction - biologically impossible to resist - in a manner akin to second-hand smoke. Allowing laptop use in class is like allowing boombox use in class - it lets each person choose whether to degrade the experience of those around them. [CITATION PROVIDED] I've stopped thinking of students as people who simply make choices about whether to pay attention, and started thinking of them as people trying to pay attention but having to compete with various influences, the largest of which is their own propensity towards involuntary and emotional reaction.
Students who did as little as possible during college continued to drift after graduation [more inside]
”Practicing openness and making oneself radically vulnerable is not only scary, it is the opposite of what we are taught to do within the logic of the contemporary university (and society more generally). Our marginalization, meager pay and lack of job security, along with the attacks on professors by students and the administration’s refusal to back up even tenured professors, all contribute to a culture of paranoia and enmity (among administration and faculty, among tenure-track faculty and adjuncts, among professors and students). Even when we manage to maintain our commitment to our students (and we do), the university seeks to capture this affective relationship and use it to further exploit us when we ask for fair wages or better conditions with the reprimand that ‘we are doing this for the students and not the money.’ Just as the practitioners of modernity gutted the erotic and sold us the pornographic, administrators attempt to gut the material and affective conditions of teaching and sell us ‘passion.’” Dr Priya J. Shah: "My Last Day as a Professor."
Friedrich Nietzsche, famously a full professor at the tender age of 24, was in a good position to develop an acute sensitivity to the university as machine: "The student listens to lectures . . . Very often the student writes at the same time he listens to lectures. These are the moments when he dangles from the umbilical cord of the university. The teacher . . . is cut off by a monumental divide from the consciousness of his students . . . A speaking mouth and many, many ears, with half as many writing hands: that is the external apparatus of the academy; set in motion, that is the educational machinery of the university." [more inside]
I, Too, Am Harvard. A photo campaign highlighting the faces and voices of black students at Harvard College. 63 students participated, sharing their experiences with ignorance and racism. "Our voices often go unheard on this campus, our experiences are devalued, our presence is questioned-- this project is our way of speaking back, of claiming this campus, of standing up to say: We are here. This place is ours. We, TOO, are Harvard." [more inside]
Bloomberg has been publishing a series of articles on the misdeeds of the fraternity system in the U.S., particularly how Greek organizations "dodge liability for mayhem at their local chapters, oppose anti-hazing bills in Congress and pressure colleges to drop restrictions on recruiting freshmen as pledges. Colleges face litigation from fraternities and the withholding of donations by wealthy alumni." [more inside]
JM Coetzee's foreword to John Higgins's new book Academic Freedom in a Democratic South Africa, which among other topics, includes an extended interview with Nelson Mandela ally and academic Jakes Gerwel on the importance of the humanities in both the anti-apartheid struggle. In an excerpt from the interview, Gerwel stated that Apartheid was to a large degree also “a battle of and over ideas, a battle of the priority of one set of ideas over another, and in this struggle the human and social sciences played a great and liberating role.” A (pdf) history of South African education under apartheid.
"I Quit Academia" -- An Important, Growing Subgenre of American Essays
"Duquesne has claimed that the unionization of adjuncts like Margaret Mary would somehow interfere with its mission to inculcate Catholic values among its students." - Daniel Kovalik
Academics are farmers and intellectuals are hunters - and the hunters may be the future of the liberal arts, writes Jack Miles.
The American Historical Association just released a statement that "strongly encourages graduate programs and university libraries to adopt a policy that allows the embargoing of completed history PhD dissertations in digital form for as many as six years." The statement is aimed at publishers who are disinclined to consider books based on dissertations that have been made freely available in open access databases. Some responses cite a 2011 survey, "Do Open Access Electronic Theses and Dissertations Diminish Publishing Opportunities in the Social Sciences and Humanities?," that found most publishers self-reported they would indeed consider publishing such dissertations, but also suggested university libraries are refusing to buy books based on dissertations that have previously been available online. "The Road From Dissertation to Book Has a New Pothole: the Internet," a 2011 article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, quotes editors who are wary of publishing such books, and discusses the process by which students can restrict access to their work at companies like ProQuest, "the electronic publisher with which the vast majority of U.S. universities contract to house digital copies of dissertations." [more inside]
Will online education dampen the college experience? Yes. Will it be worth it? Well... [more inside]
In the Fall of 2011, The Floating University assembled a video course entitled Great Big Ideas. Each of its dozen lectures is the product of a challenge given to an eminent authority and expert teacher to take "everything a non-professional needs to know about your subject in less than 60 minutes" and to bake the result into "a multi-media presentation, produced with the highest quality video and graphics." The lectures cover topics as varied as psychology, demography, physics, political philosophy, and more. During its initial offering at Harvard, Yale, and Bard during the Fall 2011 term, GBI quickly became the most popular course at all three universities.
A MOOC on planning and running MOOCs run by a leading MOOC company has spectacularly collapsed [more inside]
"If you account for my access to academic journal subscriptions, my salary is really like half a million dollars."
This past Thursday, Forbes Magazine published a pair of articles: The Most Stressful Jobs of 2013 and The Least Stressful Jobs of 2013, the latter of which began with the sentence: "University professors have a lot less stress than most of us." 300+ outraged comments (and thousands of sarcastic #RealForbesProfessor tweets,) later they've added a retraction, and linked to a blog post that takes A Real Look at Being a Professor in the US. [more inside]
Income based repayment is touted as a solution to rapidly rising college costs in the US. But there is a hefty tax bill looming for people who take advantage of this program.
Last year, The Cooper Union For The Advancement Of Science And Art publicly admitted it was in dire financial straits and raised the idea of charging tuition for the first time in 110 years. The students responded in an appropriate manner. But now as the specter of tuition becomes closer to reality the students took a more drastic option: Since Monday, eleven undergraduate students have expertly barricaded themselves inside the top floor of the New York college. They talk about what they want. They even get pizza. [more inside]
"Why should I load up on debt just to binge drink for four years when I could just create an app that nets me all the money I’ll ever need?" Young entrepreneurs are ditching college in droves, seen by some as a bad investment while dropping out is a "badge of honor" in Silicon Valley, whose lionized heroes include Zuckerburg, Jobs, and Gates - all college dropouts themselves.
What do chemists do in a "work day"? What kind of schooling do they have? How does chemistry inform their work? Do chemists have any funny stories to tell? [more inside]
McGill could lose $90 million from PQ decision to scrap tuition increases. The administration is not amused.
Recent developments in online learning have increasingly democratized the exchange of information in higher education: the launch of University of the People, a tuition-free online university; Khan Academy's acquisition of SmartHistory and its growing emphasis on humanities and liberal arts; the University of Reddit's crowd-sourced lessons being taught in real-world classrooms; Skillshare creating a community marketplace for teachers and students; Lore opening its doors to learners from all walks of life; major institutes in India putting every class lecture on YouTube in English; LectureFox collating together free university lectures from across the web. Of course not everyone is happy with the way things are going.
Many people say that a law degree enables the holder to do virtually anything. Am Law Daily explores the logical fallacies behind this statement.
“'Funding for public universities comes from, as the term suggests, the state and federal government. Yet starting in the early 1980s, shifting state priorities forced public universities to increasingly rely on other sources of revenue. For example, in the University of Washington school system, state funding for schools decreased as a percentage of total public education budgets from 82% in 1989 to 51% in 2011.' That’s a loss of more than 1/3 of its public funding. But why this shift in priorities?" How The American University was Killed, in 5 Easy Steps.
Discover Magazine posted a couple of blog entries about the law school scam as a cognitive bias and why law school tuition isn't more dispersed.
The Ph.D. Grind: A Ph.D. Student Memoir is Philip J. Guo's candid book about his six years of working towards a Ph.D. in computer science at Stanford University. Lots of Hard-earned wisdom and useful advice (especially in the epilogue) for those thinking about getting a Ph.D. [more inside]
A Conversation With Bill Gates About the Future of Higher Education at the Chronicle of Higher Education. As always, Bill is honest and interesting as he talks about new developments and how they fit into a realistic view of the next 10-20 years of higher ed.
A report by the ABA shows that some law schools hire as many as 15% of new graduates in an effort to boost employment numbers.
More Universities Should Shut Down Their Computer Science Programs
The University of Minnesota recently announced that its College of Education and Human Development has created a searchable online catalog of "open textbooks" that are reviewed by U of M faculty. The books must be Openly Licensed, complete (not a draft version of the text, or a collection of lecture notes), suitable for use outside of the author's institution, and available in print for a reasonable price, generally less than $40 USD. [more inside]
With the number of LSAT test takers in sharp decline, has the law school tuition bubble finally burst?
Tom Monaghan had a dream: To create a law school and surrounding community that would adhere strictly to Catholic values. Things have not gone according to plan. [more inside]
A student group has a novel idea to reduce college costs: pay nothing up front, instead paying out 5% of their income to the UC system for 20 years after graduation.
There has been an increasing outcry over the bleak job prospects facing law school graduates. Paul Campos, author of the "Inside The Law School Scam" blog, argues that continued high enrollment at law schools may be due to "lemming psychology".
Try one of over 600 courses available through the Open University's Learning Space. Get to know the meaning behind the making of kente cloth of Ghana or learn the mathematical modelling involved in analysing skid marks. Lose yourself in art and design or simply learn a new old language. All you need is a device with a browser and internet access. Bonus: OU on the BBC's Frozen Planet series
Our Universities: Why Are They Failing? The New York Review of Books has a lengthy review of several books about problems in higher education, pulling together the various causes that ultimately lead to universities failing to educate students. [more inside]
Dorothy Gambrell of Cat And Girl fame spends an awful lot of time talking about education, class, debt, money, and the hollow promise of aspirational media to discuss how much she hates Good Will Hunting
The job market is saturated and graduates are unable to get hired anywhere to get proper training. Law professors Richard Rhee and Bradley Borden have a solution: law schools should open their own law firms.
A computer scientist teaching at a business school decides to go after students who cheat in his class. He’s come to the conclusion that it’s simply not worth his time. [via]
Louis Menand of the New Yorker looks at the competing theories of education: that it is to create more well-rounded individuals vs. teaching someone what they need to know to get a job.
Philosopher A C Grayling announces the establishment of a new force in Higher Education in England: the New College of the Humanities, with much trumpeting of its all-star line-up, and its promise to "inspire the next generation of lawyers, journalists, financiers, politicians, civil servants, writers and teachers" . [more inside]
The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce released a study comparing the economic value of different college majors.
The Higher Education (Debt) Bubble - "[H]igh and increasing college costs mean students need to take out more loans, more loans mean more securities lenders can package and sell, more selling means lenders can offer more loans with the capital they raise, which means colleges can continue to raise costs. The result is over $800 billion in outstanding student debt, over 30 percent of it securitized, and the federal government directly or indirectly on the hook for almost all of it. If this sounds familiar, it probably should... [more inside]
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