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Thread: The Higher Education Thread

  1. #1
    Sam the Sheepdog LA Ute's Avatar
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    The Higher Education Thread

    This is a thread about higher ed, including professional schools like medicine, dentristry, law, and business. I think we can have some interesting discussions here about all of that. We even have a professor or two among our ranks.

    I'll start with this:

    The Golf Shot Heard Round the Academic World


    Funded by Mr. Klingenstein, researchers from the National Association of Scholars studied speeches by Bowdoin presidents and deans, formal statements of the college's principles, official faculty reports and notes of faculty meetings, academic course lists and syllabi, books and articles by professors, the archive of the Bowdoin Orient newspaper and more. They analyzed the school's history back to its founding in 1794, focusing on the past 45 years—during which, they argue, Bowdoin's character changed dramatically for the worse.

    Published Wednesday, the report demonstrates how Bowdoin has become an intellectual monoculture dedicated above all to identity politics....


    The Klingenstein report nicely captures the illiberal or fallacious aspects of this campus doctrine, but the paper’s true contribution is in recording some of its absurd manifestations at Bowdoin. For example, the college has “no curricular requirements that center on the American founding or the history of the nation.” Even history majors aren’t required to take a single course in American history. In the History Department, no course is devoted to American political, military, diplomatic or intellectual history—the only ones available are organized around some aspect of race, class, gender or sexuality.


    One of the few requirements is that Bowdoin students take a yearlong freshman seminar. Some of the 37 seminars offered this year: “Affirmative Action and U.S. Society,” “Fictions of Freedom,” “Racism,” “Queer Gardens” (which “examines the work of gay and lesbian gardeners and traces how marginal identities find expression in specific garden spaces”), “Sexual Life of Colonialism” and “Modern Western Prostitutes.”

    Regarding Bowdoin professors, the report estimates that “four or five out of approximately 182 full-time faculty members might be described as politically conservative.” In the 2012 election cycle, 100% of faculty donations went to President Obama.
    I'm one of those conservatives who supports and thinks he understands higher education. One aspect of attending the U. of U. that I loved and am grateful for is the exposure it gave me to different ideas, different worldviews, and the like. I feel I had a truly liberal education, in the classical sense. I want that for all my kids. But based on the above I wouldn't want to fork out the money necessary for a Bowdoin education.

    "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
    --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold."
    --Yeats

    “True, we [lawyers] build no bridges. We raise no towers. We construct no engines. We paint no pictures - unless as amateurs for our own principal amusement. There is little of all that we do which the eye of man can see. But we smooth out difficulties; we relieve stress; we correct mistakes; we take up other men's burdens and by our efforts we make possible the peaceful life of men in a peaceful state.”

    --John W. Davis, founder of Davis Polk & Wardwell

  2. #2
    Malleus Cougarorum Solon's Avatar
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    That was a good read. Thanks for posting, LA_Ute

    I'm the first to agree that there's a lot of BS in today's Academy, and it sounds like Bowdoin has some big problems, but the article's injection of liberal/conservative politics to suggest that those with liberal politics are somehow unpatriotic is nonsense.

    This paragraph is particularly galling:
    The school's ideological pillars would likely be familiar to anyone who has paid attention to American higher education lately. There's the obsession with race, class, gender and sexuality as the essential forces of history and markers of political identity. There's the dedication to "sustainability," or saving the planet from its imminent destruction by the forces of capitalism. And there are the paeans to "global citizenship," or loving all countries except one's own.
    These are the issues of our day. Of course the Academy should be fostering debate on them.
    Obviously, we should condemn one-sidedness (from those in either political camp), but the fundamental elements of a college education aren't just swallowing information (you can do that for free at wikipedia). It's learning to engage and to interpret and to rationally inquire into things like cause/effect, ethics, values, justice, and to solve problems using this information. Only a poor professor would insist that all students agree with him/her personally. The students should learn to draw their own rationally based conclusions from their own critical analyses. There are plenty of so-called "conservative" colleges where rational debate in certain fields is discouraged. These deserve the same condemnation as the departments offering lame fluff-classes to promote social agendas (and, really, to bump enrollments).

    In response to the condemnation of Bowdoin's History offerings, it sounds like that school has some real problems. But the Gen. Ed requirements at most colleges & universities today require some type of US History or Civics course to familiarize students with the basics of American history and the ethics & values of America's political system (nevermind that US students should have learned all this in High School). Bowdoin College aside, there's a healthy amount of effort that goes into fulfilling this requirement at many universities, sometimes to the detriment of the program's overall health (i.e., a bunch of highly educated people teaching course after course of high-school-level US history).

    Second, for better or for worse, the overall trend in History Departments today is away from political or national histories per se, since these institutions are often anachronistic to the place/time in question. Plus, historians are often affected by the pressing issues of their own times, and these issues are projected into their inquires into the past. For instance, the 1960s saw a proliferation of monographs about race/ethnicity in historical contexts. The 1970s witnessed more studies about women's issues and history in the past. In the 1980s & 1990s, it was economic theories & gender studies. Today, it's about trans-nationalism, migration, and memory in a rapidly changing world. For better or for worse, the questions historians are asking are closely tied to the questions working through contemporary society. In a sense, this relationship between the past and present is a strong justification for the reasons why we study history, that is we study history in order to better understand ourselves.

    In this sense, it is absolutely relevant to focus on the "Identity" component of historical inquiry. Furthermore, the underlying assumption of a shared US identity is increasingly coming under attack. More and more, I think, we can identify a 'Western' ethos in the liberal democratic societies of today, but the deconstruction of the US foundation myths isn't just gratuitous iconoclasm, it's a realization that the experiences of rich, white, educated (mostly male) people aren't the historical norm in the US or any other country. Other people's stories bring texture, depth, variety, and context to the narrative. Don't get me wrong. Students should still learn the basics of US history, especially those values/ethics components that connect back to the ancients and forward to the present, but women's history, African American history, Native American history, etc. are relevant voices too.
    σοφῷ ἀνδρὶ Ἑλλὰς πάντα.
    -- Flavius Philostratus, Life of Apollonius 1.35.2.

  3. #3
    Sam the Sheepdog LA Ute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solon View Post
    That was a good read. Thanks for posting, LA_Ute

    I'm the first to agree that there's a lot of BS in today's Academy, and it sounds like Bowdoin has some big problems, but the article's injection of liberal/conservative politics to suggest that those with liberal politics are somehow unpatriotic is nonsense....

    In this sense, it is absolutely relevant to focus on the "Identity" component of historical inquiry. Furthermore, the underlying assumption of a shared US identity is increasingly coming under attack. More and more, I think, we can identify a 'Western' ethos in the liberal democratic societies of today, but the deconstruction of the US foundation myths isn't just gratuitous iconoclasm, it's a realization that the experiences of rich, white, educated (mostly male) people aren't the historical norm in the US or any other country. Other people's stories bring texture, depth, variety, and context to the narrative. Don't get me wrong. Students should still learn the basics of US history, especially those values/ethics components that connect back to the ancients and forward to the present, but women's history, African American history, Native American history, etc. are relevant voices too.
    Thanks, with that added perspective you've taken the sharp edge off my annoyance at Bowdoin. I also think the WSJ piece was a bit too right-wing in its criticisms. Still, I'm concerned about what I see as a tendency for universities to be ideologically one-dimensional. My son took a social-behavioral science course at the U. last fall and shared with me the study guide for the final exam. In the guide the professor supplied the "right" answers to the questions. Those answers read like a Saturday Night Live parody of a left-wing college professor's world view on controversial issues. If I can find it I'll share it with you. Stuff like that just seems intellectually dishonest to me. I still like the idea of the university being a place where ideas collide and are analyzed, and thinking is prized over orthodoxy.

    EDIT: I also think what the American Founders accomplished was terribly and globally important and deserves study, even if they were white privileged males.
    Last edited by LA Ute; 04-07-2013 at 05:19 PM.

    "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
    --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold."
    --Yeats

    “True, we [lawyers] build no bridges. We raise no towers. We construct no engines. We paint no pictures - unless as amateurs for our own principal amusement. There is little of all that we do which the eye of man can see. But we smooth out difficulties; we relieve stress; we correct mistakes; we take up other men's burdens and by our efforts we make possible the peaceful life of men in a peaceful state.”

    --John W. Davis, founder of Davis Polk & Wardwell

  4. #4
    Sam the Sheepdog LA Ute's Avatar
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    I'd just like to talk with my kids (and their generation) about Shakespeare's great tragedies and not get blank stares.

    "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
    --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold."
    --Yeats

    “True, we [lawyers] build no bridges. We raise no towers. We construct no engines. We paint no pictures - unless as amateurs for our own principal amusement. There is little of all that we do which the eye of man can see. But we smooth out difficulties; we relieve stress; we correct mistakes; we take up other men's burdens and by our efforts we make possible the peaceful life of men in a peaceful state.”

    --John W. Davis, founder of Davis Polk & Wardwell

  5. #5
    Educating Cyrus wuapinmon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LA Ute View Post
    I'd just like to talk with my kids (and their generation) about Shakespeare's great tragedies and not get blank stares.
    And people of a century ago felt the same way about Plato and Xenophon.

    I understand the ideas behind Great Books. I think it's discouraging that someone can graduate from Coker College without ever having taken a single history course. There are some classes that make me scratch my head, but the level of inspection of themes and ideas has never been broader. While I scratch my head at a course on gay gardening for credit, I don't know the syllabus, I don't know the way the topic is approached, and I don't know the way the course is credited. I do know that it's easy to go WTF at course titles, but there are many ways that that course might be beneficial. For example, have the dual incomes of homosexuals allowed them to revitalize the urban garden (or rooftop, or suburban)? If so, are we reading the gardens as texts. Gardens have long histories, including significant religious ones, is the course examining the history of gardens vis as vis modernism, via queer theory, via nature theory?

    These kids come to me at 18 cocksure, overblown, yet asking for permission to use the bathroom and sharpen their pencils, confident that their parents had it all figured out. I'd like for them to get outside of their comfort zone and study things that make them uncomfortable, that make them question everything, that make them learn new systems and cultures.

    They get a steady diet of teaching to the test about curriculum standards in high school. College shouldn't be about that (though the accrediting bodies are flexing ever more muscle as legislators require proof of "mission" from the public higher-ed schools.

    For Liberal Arts required credit (they make choose options from 'baskets' like "Humanities," "Cultural Diversity," "Natural Sciences," "Behavioral Sciences," "Arts," and "the United States.") I teach or have taught courses called, "US Latinos" (United States), "Reggae, Rastafari, and Robert Nesta Marley" (elective), "Banana cultivation and Latin-American Literature" (Cultural Diversity), "Spain: Culture & Civ" (Humanities), "Latin American: Culture & Civ" (Cultural Diversity), "Latin American Literature" (Cultural Diversity), Latin-American Film (elective), and Afro-Hispano Literature & Culture (Cultural Diversity).

    I use the Socratic Method when I teach. I'm also not convinced that a curriculum built around identity politics is necessarily a bad thing. While it certainly differs from what's been done in the past, evolution often requires a culling of that which no longer keeps up. Kids don't want Great Books classes, legislators and parents want them.

    I just want kids to be intellectually curious, but until we disrupt public education at the primary and secondary levels, we'll be waiting for that to return like a certain carpenter.
    "This culture doesn't sell modesty. It sells "I am more modest than you" modesty." -- Two Utes

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    Sam the Sheepdog LA Ute's Avatar
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    Very informative, wuap. As a parting curmudgeonly note on this subject. I didn't want to study Shakespeare either, until I had a teacher who made him live for me.

    "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
    --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold."
    --Yeats

    “True, we [lawyers] build no bridges. We raise no towers. We construct no engines. We paint no pictures - unless as amateurs for our own principal amusement. There is little of all that we do which the eye of man can see. But we smooth out difficulties; we relieve stress; we correct mistakes; we take up other men's burdens and by our efforts we make possible the peaceful life of men in a peaceful state.”

    --John W. Davis, founder of Davis Polk & Wardwell

  7. #7
    Caged Wisdom Harry Tic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LA Ute View Post
    I'd just like to talk with my kids (and their generation) about Shakespeare's great tragedies and not get blank stares.
    This is right on. It astounds me how culturally illiterate young people are today. Nothing can get me to go into cranky old man mode faster than talking to someone in their early 20s who has no idea about the fall of the Berlin Wall or who Fidel Castro is. Hell, I'd be happy if they could get an occasional Seinfeld reference.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by wuapinmon View Post
    I just want kids to be intellectually curious, but until we disrupt public education at the primary and secondary levels, we'll be waiting for that to return like a certain carpenter.
    This statement perfectly illustrates the real problem. Who’s lead do you think primary and secondary education follows? Curriculum is a top down phenomenon. Those who write it were trained in the hallowed halls of academia, subject to liberal education in copious amounts. Standardized curriculum and testing is ultimately a consequence. The real question is, is it a type of rebellion?

    You may be right about one thing. The culling is coming but it may not be what you think:

    http://www.wired.com/business/2013/0...rm-capitalism/

    Howe: If you had to list some industries right now that are either in a state of disruptive crisis or will be soon, what would they be?

    Christensen: Journalism, certainly, and publishing broadly. Anything supported by advertising. That all of this is being disrupted is now beyond question. And then I think higher education is just on the edge of the crevasse. Generally, universities are doing very well financially, so they don’t feel from the data that their world is going to collapse. But I think even five years from now these enterprises are going to be in real trouble.

    Christensen: The availability of online learning. It will take root in its simplest applications, then just get better and better. You know, Harvard Business School doesn’t teach accounting anymore, because there’s a guy out of BYU whose online accounting course is so good. He is extraordinary, and our accounting faculty, on average, is average.

    Howe: What happens to all our institutions of advanced learning?

    Christensen: Some will survive. Most will evolve hybrid models, in which universities license some courses from an online provider like Coursera but then provide more-specialized courses in person. Hybrids are actually a principle regardless of industry. If you want to use a new technology in a mainstream existing market, it has to be a hybrid. It’s like the electric car. If you want to have a viable electric car, you have to ask if there is a market where the customers want a car that won’t go far or fast. The answer is, parents of teenagers would love to put their teens in a car that won’t go far or fast. Little by little, the technology will emerge to take it on longer trips. But if you want to have this new technology employed on the California freeways right now, it has to be a hybrid like a Prius, where you take the best of the old with the best of the new.
    ---------

    It’s not that established players can’t see the disruptions coming; they almost always do.
    http://www.wired.com/opinion/2013/02...-going-really/
    Last edited by tooblue; 04-07-2013 at 08:22 PM.

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    Malleus Cougarorum Solon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Tic View Post
    This is right on. It astounds me how culturally illiterate young people are today. Nothing can get me to go into cranky old man mode faster than talking to someone in their early 20s who has no idea about the fall of the Berlin Wall or who Fidel Castro is. Hell, I'd be happy if they could get an occasional Seinfeld reference.
    I also feel like a "you kids get off my lawn" old man, but the ease of acquiring information has both spoiled and empowered this generation of college kids to an amazing degree, and I think educators are still trying to catch up. My students can find information in a flash. They have a harder time assessing the reliability of that information. They have a really hard time interpreting that information to formulate independent or original analysis.

    The information is important, but I've learned that students can always get information. I'm much more interested in training students to think. This realization has radically altered the way I teach.
    σοφῷ ἀνδρὶ Ἑλλὰς πάντα.
    -- Flavius Philostratus, Life of Apollonius 1.35.2.

  10. #10
    I'm fine with this thread as long as no one questions the value of three of my law school courses: Law and Film, Space Law, and Just War Theory. I didn't try to get into The Book of Job or Law in Japanese Literature.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by tooblue View Post
    This statement perfectly illustrates the real problem. Who’s lead do you think primary and secondary education follows? Curriculum is a top down phenomenon. Those who write it were trained in the hallowed halls of academia, subject to liberal education in copious amounts. Standardized curriculum and testing is ultimately a consequence. The real question is, is it a type of rebellion?

    You may be right about one thing. The culling is coming but it may not be what you think:

    http://www.wired.com/business/2013/0...rm-capitalism/



    ---------



    http://www.wired.com/opinion/2013/02...-going-really/
    I shared this video elsewhere. It's applicable:


  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Solon View Post
    I also feel like a "you kids get off my lawn" old man, but the ease of acquiring information has both spoiled and empowered this generation of college kids to an amazing degree, and I think educators are still trying to catch up. My students can find information in a flash. They have a harder time assessing the reliability of that information. They have a really hard time interpreting that information to formulate independent or original analysis.

    The information is important, but I've learned that students can always get information. I'm much more interested in training students to think. This realization has radically altered the way I teach.
    Being a lowly Community College professor hired because of my success in my respective industry and with a mere MFA, that I recently earned, I may to be qualified to fully comment in this thread. Yet, your lament above strikes me as all too familiar and astute. Though, it's more than an inability to interpret or analyze information in my experience. The conundrum, as I see it, is a lack of self-awareness among my students. Virtually everything they submit in the form of research or project work is relational to their contemporary culture. If an idea cannot be distilled into a popular meme is has no influence on their perception of reality.

    The goal for me as a post-secondary educator is not only to get them to think, but to awaken a primal creative capacity that seems to be lying dormant. It's difficult. There are only so many derivative designs or works of art that can be created based upon The Walking Dead.

  13. #13
    Educating Cyrus wuapinmon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tooblue View Post
    This statement perfectly illustrates the real problem. Who’s lead do you think primary and secondary education follows? Curriculum is a top down phenomenon. Those who write it were trained in the hallowed halls of academia, subject to liberal education in copious amounts. Standardized curriculum and testing is ultimately a consequence.
    Pedagogues and Ed.D. are a special breed bureaucrats and Napoleons combined. They don't give two shits about the Liberal Arts. If they had it their way they'd only teach 4 years of education classes.

    Since SACS began assessment standardization what has happened to primary and secondary education? It's gone to shit in this country. That you think that the consequence of copious amounts of Liberal Arts education is the cause of standardized curricula indicates to me that you don't know what the fuck you're talking about.
    "This culture doesn't sell modesty. It sells "I am more modest than you" modesty." -- Two Utes

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by wuapinmon View Post
    Pedagogues and Ed.D. are a special breed bureaucrats and Napoleons combined. They don't give two shits about the Liberal Arts. If they had it their way they'd only teach 4 years of education classes.

    Since SACS began assessment standardization what has happened to primary and secondary education? It's gone to shit in this country. That you think that the consequence of copious amounts of Liberal Arts education is the cause of standardized curricula indicates to me that you don't know what the fuck you're talking about.
    My thoughts are speculation based upon personal experience as a curriculum specialist in my particular area of concern. I am on record in support of liberal arts. Hence I chose to pursue a masters and a PhD in the liberal arts. Perhaps you are reading into my comments what you want to read in place of what is written. Your emphatic use of vulgarity is telling. Regardless, curriculum is a top down phenomenon. And there are many types of Pedagogues directing it, present company included.
    Last edited by tooblue; 04-08-2013 at 07:28 AM.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by sancho View Post
    The death of the university at the hands of the internet is a very popular prophesy these days. The New York Times seems to have an article every other week on the subject. I hope they are wrong, or at least that they are wrong on how fast it will come.
    I don't see it as death per se, more an evolution through natural selection. It's happening quickly but, not as quickly as the media has prophesied.
    Last edited by tooblue; 04-08-2013 at 07:38 AM.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by tooblue View Post
    I don't see it as death per se, more an evolution through natural selection. It's happening quickly but, not as quickly as the media has prophesied.
    I hope you can leave space for people to believe that this process you are describing is divinely guided, either directly or using this "natural selection" you speak of.
    “The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.”
    Carl Sagan

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by UtahDan View Post
    I hope you can leave space for people to believe that this process you are describing is divinely guided, either directly or using this "natural selection" you speak of.
    I will do my best; kindness is my religion afterall It's kind of ironic that I bring up the issue of curriculum being a top down phenomenon and it is almost immediately railed against. It reminds me of similar arguments concerning some other large organization and correlation

  18. #18
    Anybody see celebrity apprentice last night? Dennis Rodman got fired because he mispelled the first name of Donald Trump's wife on a skin care product line she was developing. A big no-no.

    How does that apply to this thread, you ask? A cannon is a big gun; a howitzer. A canon is an ecclesiastical law, a standard, a classic. its also a camera that competes with Nikon.

  19. #19
    Sam the Sheepdog LA Ute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by concerned View Post
    Anybody see celebrity apprentice last night? Dennis Rodman got fired because he mispelled the first name of Donald Trump's wife on a skin care product line she was developing. A big no-no.

    How does that apply to this thread, you ask? A cannon is a big gun; a howitzer. A canon is an ecclesiastical law, a standard, a classic. its also a camera that competes with Nikon.
    Now you're turning people who make minor spelling errors into canon fodder.

    "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
    --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold."
    --Yeats

    “True, we [lawyers] build no bridges. We raise no towers. We construct no engines. We paint no pictures - unless as amateurs for our own principal amusement. There is little of all that we do which the eye of man can see. But we smooth out difficulties; we relieve stress; we correct mistakes; we take up other men's burdens and by our efforts we make possible the peaceful life of men in a peaceful state.”

    --John W. Davis, founder of Davis Polk & Wardwell

  20. #20
    Educating Cyrus wuapinmon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tooblue View Post
    Your emphatic use of vulgarity is telling.
    It should be telling you the low esteem in which I hold your opinion about these matters; I don't cuss pro forma. You're conflating the two different realms, primary/secondary and higher education. The Pedagogues were allowed to apply philological principles to the study of their field, and we let them do it. Whereas a simple (used loosely) math degree used to suffice, now you have to have a math education degree, and essentially pay tuition to be an apprentice during your senior year. What has their professionalization of the profession accomplished? Lower results in a straight line downward. Then they insinuated themselves into the accrediting bodies. Starting the 1960's, legislators began asking publics to demonstrate that they were indeed 'educating' people, and the die was cast. The pedagogues, in fulfillment of their highest aspirations as Sith Lords of the Acedemy, began with standardized tests, and when that became privatized (and subsequently shown to be worthless), then SACS stepped in in 1985 and began demanding "assessment" and "learning outcomes." This moved up the food chain in the late 80's when the federal government, through no small amount of lobbying by the accrediting bodies, ordered that only accredited institutions could receive federal financial aid. SACS conversion to the Dark Side became complete when HW Bush signed that into law.

    Our syllabi are now contracts and have to have all these addenda that no one reads because SACS says so. I cannot teach a course in Portuguese, even though I speak it fluently, and have 14 years of language education experience, because I do not have 18 graduate hours in the language, even though I have a PhD. These SACS reports read like Soviet Five Year Plans. "Students will know the difference between X and Y" instead of "Student should know." We have to write them like that. They are almost worthless (the lone value being that it makes me wonder if I'm doing enough in class). In order to teach my reggae class, I have to write an essay to put into a file about why and how I am qualified to teach a course. A copy of my credentials is attached to each syllabus and put into a file so that the SACS auditors can come every 5 years and audit us (according to their rules). They have no oversight. We cannot resist or put the financial strength of the institution in jeopardy. So, we have SACS mettings in which we sit around and talk about how best to write their reports. I get feedback telling me stuff like this:

    In accordance with SACS Standard CS 3.3.1: The institution identifies expected outcomes, assess the extent to which it achieves these outcomes, and provides evidence of improvement based on analysis of the results in educational programs, to include student learning outcomes.

    Student Learning Outcomes, Measures, and Criteria for Success

    1. Do the student learning outcomes align with the program’s objective statement? Do they focus on student learning? Are they measureable? Is the number of outcomes sufficient?



    • Learning Outcome 1: I think the “serious student” in the objective should be changed to Spanish major/graduate to align better. Under Criteria for Success (B) a formal pre, during and after survey/questionnaire would document the student’s learning outcome better than informal communications.


    They don't care if students are learning; I have to assess and document that they have improved, and if they haven't, it's not their fault. No, the course must be overhauled if students don't improve, regardless of their amount of effort invested in the course.

    The pedagogues have such a tight rein on the field that things like this have happened. Katrina hits. I live with my parents. I have no employment, so I contact the local school board about substitute teaching Spanish. I am ABD with an MA.

    Nope, can't do it. You don't have an education certificate or a substitute license. I point out that I teach their teachers how to teach. No matter, you don't have the credentials. I point out that I grant the credentials. Nope, sorry. "You're not qualified to teach Spanish in Cherokee County."

    So, my original comment related to the lack of curiosity I was noticing in my students (and the Chronicle has numerous articles showing that my experience isn't merely anecdotal) stemming from their primary and secondary curricula. If you want to call that top-down, fine. But, know that pedagogy is not a Liberal Art, and the pedagogues will be the ruin of higher education. The proliferation of classes that you see as top-down, in my mind, is a reaction against the pedagogues run amok on our children's educations.
    Last edited by wuapinmon; 04-08-2013 at 09:25 AM.
    "This culture doesn't sell modesty. It sells "I am more modest than you" modesty." -- Two Utes

  21. #21
    Sam the Sheepdog LA Ute's Avatar
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    This woman seems rightly depressed:

    Thesis Hatement
    :
    Getting a literature Ph.D. will turn you into an emotional trainwreck, not a professor.

    I had no idea it was this bad.

    I now realize graduate school was a terrible idea because the full-time, tenure-track literature professorship is extinct. After four years of trying, I’ve finally gotten it through my thick head that I will not get a job—and if you go to graduate school, neither will you. You might think your circumstances will be different. So did I. There’s a little fable from Kafka, appropriately called ‘A Little Fable,’ that speaks to why this was very stupid. . . . Someone has to get these jobs. Well, someone also has to not die from small-cell lung cancer to give the disease its 6 percent survival rate, but would you smoke four packs a day with the specific intention of being in that 6 percent? No, because that’s stupid. Well, tenure-track positions in my field have about 150 applicants each. Multiply that 0.6 percent chance of getting any given job by the 10 or so appropriate positions in the entire world, and you have about that same 6 percent chance of ‘success.’ If you wouldn’t bet your life on such ludicrous odds, then why would you bet your livelihood?

    "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
    --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold."
    --Yeats

    “True, we [lawyers] build no bridges. We raise no towers. We construct no engines. We paint no pictures - unless as amateurs for our own principal amusement. There is little of all that we do which the eye of man can see. But we smooth out difficulties; we relieve stress; we correct mistakes; we take up other men's burdens and by our efforts we make possible the peaceful life of men in a peaceful state.”

    --John W. Davis, founder of Davis Polk & Wardwell

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by sancho View Post
    Meh, if the spell checker says okay, I move on. By they way - its is the possessive of it. I think you were going for it's, which means "it is." Now we are even.
    If we cant get the difference between cannon and canon, what hope can there be for the future of higher education? The next generation will think that Shakespeare was an artillery commander. Well, Faulkner was a pilot so maybe that is ok.

  23. #23
    Sam the Sheepdog LA Ute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by concerned View Post
    If we cant get the difference between cannon and canon, what hope can there be for the future of higher education? The next generation will think that Shakespeare was an artillery commander. Well, Faulkner was a pilot so maybe that is ok.
    This is beginning to sound like mere cant to me.

    "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
    --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold."
    --Yeats

    “True, we [lawyers] build no bridges. We raise no towers. We construct no engines. We paint no pictures - unless as amateurs for our own principal amusement. There is little of all that we do which the eye of man can see. But we smooth out difficulties; we relieve stress; we correct mistakes; we take up other men's burdens and by our efforts we make possible the peaceful life of men in a peaceful state.”

    --John W. Davis, founder of Davis Polk & Wardwell

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by LA Ute View Post
    This is beginning to sound like mere cant to me.

    cant is never mere.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by wuapinmon View Post
    It should be telling you the low esteem in which I hold your opinion about these matters; I don't cuss pro forma. You're conflating the two different realms, primary/secondary and higher education. The Pedagogues were allowed to apply philological principles to the study of their field, and we let them do it. Whereas a simple (used loosely) math degree used to suffice, now you have to have a math education degree, and essentially pay tuition to be an apprentice during your senior year. What has their professionalization of the profession accomplished? Lower results in a straight line downward. Then they insinuated themselves into the accrediting bodies. Starting the 1960's, legislators began asking publics to demonstrate that they were indeed 'educating' people, and the die was cast. The pedagogues, in fulfillment of their highest aspirations as Sith Lords of the Acedemy, began with standardized tests, and when that became privatized (and subsequently shown to be worthless), then SACS stepped in in 1985 and began demanding "assessment" and "learning outcomes." This moved up the food chain in the late 80's when the federal government, through no small amount of lobbying by the accrediting bodies, ordered that only accredited institutions could receive federal financial aid. SACS conversion to the Dark Side became complete when HW Bush signed that into law.

    Our syllabi are now contracts and have to have all these addenda that no one reads because SACS says so. I cannot teach a course in Portuguese, even though I speak it fluently, and have 14 years of language education experience, because I do not have 18 graduate hours in the language, even though I have a PhD. These SACS reports read like Soviet Five Year Plans. "Students will know the difference between X and Y" instead of "Student should know." We have to write them like that. They are almost worthless (the lone value being that it makes me wonder if I'm doing enough in class). In order to teach my reggae class, I have to write an essay to put into a file about why and how I am qualified to teach a course. A copy of my credentials is attached to each syllabus and put into a file so that the SACS auditors can come every 5 years and audit us (according to their rules). They have no oversight. We cannot resist or put the financial strength of the institution in jeopardy. So, we have SACS mettings in which we sit around and talk about how best to write their reports. I get feedback telling me stuff like this:



    They don't care if students are learning; I have to assess and document that they have improved, and if they haven't, it's not their fault. No, the course must be overhauled if students don't improve, regardless of their amount of effort invested in the course.

    The pedagogues have such a tight rein on the field that things like this have happened. Katrina hits. I live with my parents. I have no employment, so I contact the local school board about substitute teaching Spanish. I am ABD with an MA.

    Nope, can't do it. You don't have an education certificate or a substitute license. I point out that I teach their teachers how to teach. No matter, you don't have the credentials. I point out that I grant the credentials. Nope, sorry. "You're not qualified to teach Spanish in Cherokee County."

    So, my original comment related to the lack of curiosity I was noticing in my students (and the Chronicle has numerous articles showing that my experience isn't merely anecdotal) stemming from their primary and secondary curricula. If you want to call that top-down, fine. But, know that pedagogy is not a Liberal Art, and the pedagogues will be the ruin of higher education. The proliferation of classes that you see as top-down, in my mind, is a reaction against the pedagogues run amok on our children's educations.
    What's telling is you write as if I am ignorant to your cited plights and you must condescend to better inform me on the situation. So little esteem on your part says more about you than about me and my qualifications to speak authoritatively on this subject. Granted, I don't teach in the same arena or country for that matter but, my experience isn't much different ... the two systems of education are not much different ... just as the dilemma of post secondary vs. secondary and primary isn't much different. I live it daily. I too must write syllabi. I will spend my entire spring personal and professional development period sitting in meetings and writing the same reports you write. I too must justify what I teach and demonstrate that students enrolled in my class are learning something to appease the accreditation and funding beasts. I too will revamp, rewrite or obliterate existing curriculum based upon the tested performance and—unfathomably—the uniformed opinions (whims) of the monetary units sometimes referred to as students, offered up on so-called performance review surveys and reports filled out yearly in the class room.

    Perhaps what separates me from you is that I was raised and educated in the American System. I received my initial post secondary education instruction in that same system. I then continued my post secondary education in a foreign country, followed by receipt of a terminal degree in another foreign country to be followed by one more set of initials next to my name in yet another foreign system. This provides me a unique perspective. Dismiss it if you like but that does not render it irrelevant or inconsequential to your so called authority on the subject.

    To add one more layer to the discussion, my children have and are being educated in a different primary and secondary system. In terms of social experience it doesn't compare to the American system but, in terms of educational experience, it is superior in many ways.
    Last edited by tooblue; 04-08-2013 at 10:30 AM.

  26. #26
    Malleus Cougarorum Solon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by concerned View Post
    If we cant get the difference between cannon and canon, what hope can there be for the future of higher education? The next generation will think that Shakespeare was an artillery commander. Well, Faulkner was a pilot so maybe that is ok.
    I've always heard that Paul E. Kleitos was a pioneer in the fusilier arts.

    Quote Originally Posted by wuapinmon View Post
    Ithen SACS stepped in in 1985 and began demanding "assessment" and "learning outcomes." This moved up the food chain in the late 80's when the federal government, through no small amount of lobbying by the accrediting bodies, ordered that only accredited institutions could receive federal financial aid. SACS conversion to the Dark Side became complete when HW Bush signed that into law.

    Our syllabi are now contracts and have to have all these addenda that no one reads because SACS says so. I cannot teach a course in Portuguese, even though I speak it fluently, and have 14 years of language education experience, because I do not have 18 graduate hours in the language, even though I have a PhD. These SACS reports read like Soviet Five Year Plans. "Students will know the difference between X and Y" instead of "Student should know." We have to write them like that.
    I agree that the assessment / learning-outcomes is a pain, but I feel like it's more of an effort in corporatization/standardizaton at my institution. Sometimes the classes don't fit very well into the categories, but it's just a game of mutual, reciprocal BS.

    BTW, I get to write my Learning Outcomes as "A student who has mastered the material will be able to . . . "

    Our assessment coordinator (her real job title) recommended measurable outcomes like "80% of the students will receive at least X grade on Y assignment", but I just told her that would incentivize me to inflate the grades, whether or not they had learned the material. So, my measurable outcomes say something like "100% of the students will . . . ", since - you know - it's a goal and all.
    σοφῷ ἀνδρὶ Ἑλλὰς πάντα.
    -- Flavius Philostratus, Life of Apollonius 1.35.2.

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Solon View Post
    I've always heard that Paul E. Kleitos was a pioneer in the fusilier arts.



    I agree that the assessment / learning-outcomes is a pain, but I feel like it's more of an effort in corporatization/standardizaton at my institution. Sometimes the classes don't fit very well into the categories, but it's just a game of mutual, reciprocal BS.

    BTW, I get to write my Learning Outcomes as "A student who has mastered the material will be able to . . . "

    Our assessment coordinator (her real job title) recommended measurable outcomes like "80% of the students will receive at least X grade on Y assignment", but I just told her that would incentivize me to inflate the grades, whether or not they had learned the material. So, my measurable outcomes say something like "100% of the students will . . . ", since - you know - it's a goal and all.
    We have two sets of learning outcomes. One set is imposed on us by an independent curriculum and assessment body within our school. The outcomes are more general and they focus on the overall educational experience of the student at the institution of higher learning. The second set of outcomes are course specific and they also start with the statement: "A student who has mastered ..."

    I am only required to ensure that a student who passes my course can demonstrate he or she is competent in and understands 80% of the delivered content.
    Last edited by tooblue; 04-08-2013 at 11:34 AM.

  28. #28
    Malleus Cougarorum Solon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tooblue View Post
    We have two sets of learning outcomes. One set is imposed on us by an independent curriculum and assessment body within our school. The outcomes are more general and they focus on the overall educational experience of the student at the institution of higher learning. The second set of outcomes are course specific and they also start with the statement: "A student who has mastered ..."

    I am only required to ensure that a student who passes my course can demonstrate he or she is competent and understands 80% of the delivered content.
    I think the requirement to formulate learning-outcomes has been a good experience, especially for some of the old-timers at my school.
    It's worthwhile to take a moment and really decide what the most important components of the class are, and what they should be.

    I don't have a problem with the concept. Some of the "measurability" is a little too much.
    σοφῷ ἀνδρὶ Ἑλλὰς πάντα.
    -- Flavius Philostratus, Life of Apollonius 1.35.2.

  29. #29
    Sam the Sheepdog LA Ute's Avatar
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    This is a review of what appears to be a balanced look at an old subject:

    Self-Fulfilling Professorial Politics

    Conspiracy theories abound when it comes to professors and politics. To hear some conservatives tell it, a liberal-dominated professoriate attempts to brainwash students and to keep out of the faculty club any who challenge leftist orthodoxy. Ph.D. programs in the humanities teach some sort of secret handshake that lets those with politically correct views land the best jobs. To hear some liberals talk about it, there is no such thing as a liberal professoriate. Rather, a well-financed group of conservatives and their foundations use the politics issue to trash higher education. If there aren't more conservative professors around, it's because those on the right prefer the world of money to the world of ideas, and flock to Wall Street.

    Neil Gross will disappoint most of the conspiracy theorists with his new book, Why Are Professors Liberal and Why Do Conservatives Care?, which is being released today by Harvard University Press....



    "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
    --Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold."
    --Yeats

    “True, we [lawyers] build no bridges. We raise no towers. We construct no engines. We paint no pictures - unless as amateurs for our own principal amusement. There is little of all that we do which the eye of man can see. But we smooth out difficulties; we relieve stress; we correct mistakes; we take up other men's burdens and by our efforts we make possible the peaceful life of men in a peaceful state.”

    --John W. Davis, founder of Davis Polk & Wardwell

  30. #30
    Living in the past ... FMCoug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wuapinmon View Post
    It should be telling you the low esteem in which I hold your opinion about these matters; I don't cuss pro forma. You're conflating the two different realms, primary/secondary and higher education. The Pedagogues were allowed to apply philological principles to the study of their field, and we let them do it. Whereas a simple (used loosely) math degree used to suffice, now you have to have a math education degree, and essentially pay tuition to be an apprentice during your senior year. What has their professionalization of the profession accomplished? Lower results in a straight line downward. Then they insinuated themselves into the accrediting bodies. Starting the 1960's, legislators began asking publics to demonstrate that they were indeed 'educating' people, and the die was cast. The pedagogues, in fulfillment of their highest aspirations as Sith Lords of the Acedemy, began with standardized tests, and when that became privatized (and subsequently shown to be worthless), then SACS stepped in in 1985 and began demanding "assessment" and "learning outcomes." This moved up the food chain in the late 80's when the federal government, through no small amount of lobbying by the accrediting bodies, ordered that only accredited institutions could receive federal financial aid. SACS conversion to the Dark Side became complete when HW Bush signed that into law.

    Our syllabi are now contracts and have to have all these addenda that no one reads because SACS says so. I cannot teach a course in Portuguese, even though I speak it fluently, and have 14 years of language education experience, because I do not have 18 graduate hours in the language, even though I have a PhD. These SACS reports read like Soviet Five Year Plans. "Students will know the difference between X and Y" instead of "Student should know." We have to write them like that. They are almost worthless (the lone value being that it makes me wonder if I'm doing enough in class). In order to teach my reggae class, I have to write an essay to put into a file about why and how I am qualified to teach a course. A copy of my credentials is attached to each syllabus and put into a file so that the SACS auditors can come every 5 years and audit us (according to their rules). They have no oversight. We cannot resist or put the financial strength of the institution in jeopardy. So, we have SACS mettings in which we sit around and talk about how best to write their reports. I get feedback telling me stuff like this:



    They don't care if students are learning; I have to assess and document that they have improved, and if they haven't, it's not their fault. No, the course must be overhauled if students don't improve, regardless of their amount of effort invested in the course.

    The pedagogues have such a tight rein on the field that things like this have happened. Katrina hits. I live with my parents. I have no employment, so I contact the local school board about substitute teaching Spanish. I am ABD with an MA.

    Nope, can't do it. You don't have an education certificate or a substitute license. I point out that I teach their teachers how to teach. No matter, you don't have the credentials. I point out that I grant the credentials. Nope, sorry. "You're not qualified to teach Spanish in Cherokee County."

    So, my original comment related to the lack of curiosity I was noticing in my students (and the Chronicle has numerous articles showing that my experience isn't merely anecdotal) stemming from their primary and secondary curricula. If you want to call that top-down, fine. But, know that pedagogy is not a Liberal Art, and the pedagogues will be the ruin of higher education. The proliferation of classes that you see as top-down, in my mind, is a reaction against the pedagogues run amok on our children's educations.
    My wife is dealing with this right now in the secondary ed space. She has a Psychology degree with an emphasis in Child Development but no teaching certificate. A few years ago after the kids were old enough, she decided she'd like to start teaching. She started substituting and eventually got a part-time hourly job teaching two periods of Child Development at a local HS. She is enthusastic, loves the kids, they love her, they consitently get the highest test scores in her derpartment, etc. She can't stand the other teachers and has started avoiding the teacher's lounge becuase of ther bad attitudes towards the kids, etc. They also treat her like shit because she is not a "credentialed teacher" and thus obviously doesn't know how to teach, manage the classroom, etc.

    So she decided she really enjoys this (teaching HS no less) and started investigating alternative paths to licensure figuring she'd have to take a few classes, do student teaching, etc. Lo and behold, for her particular bachelor's degree, there isn't one. It's not on the "approved list" of undergrad degrees for the program. She basically has to get a 2nd Bachelor's Degree. A master's degree you say? No, that would have to be in education and her undergrad doesn't qualify her for the program. So here she is, working a maximum of two class periods per semester, at a lowly hourly wage, donating all her own time for prep, etc. and only really doing it because she loves it. But it is sounding like for next year they are going to hire a full-time teacher in her department (which includes things like foods and sewing) to teach a full load across all of those. So she will be out. It's not a finanical issue for us, we cdon't need the money. It's mad money for her and she does it because she likes it.

    Next time you hear the bulshit about how there aren't enough good teachers, look right to the UEA and their cronies. That is the source of all of this.

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