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What's Wrong With the American University System

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  • The Best and the Brightest Led America Off a Cliff
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  • Higher ed should aspire to higher purpose
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  • Teaching to Student's, Not Industry's, Needs
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Jennie Rothenberg Gritz, TheAtlantic.com

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Will Shapira

Holt/Times Books

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Andrew Hacker, who is professor emeritus at Queens College in New York, recalls the day a young political scientist walked into his department to interview for a job. Everything about the man's resume made him an ideal candidate. He was finishing his dissertation at a top university. His mentors had written effusive recommendations. But when the young superstar sat down with the department chair, he seemed to have only one goal: to land a tenure-track position that involved as many sabbaticals and as little teaching as possible. He was not invited back for a second interview.

Hacker and his coauthor, New York Times writer Claudia Dreifus, use this cautionary tale to launch their new book, a fierce critique of modern academia called Higher Education? "The question mark in our title," they write, "is the key to this book." To their minds, little of what takes place on college campuses today can be considered either "higher" or "education." They blame a system that favors research over teaching and vocational training over liberal arts. Tenure, they argue, does anything but protect intellectual freedom. And they'd like to see graduates worrying less about their careers, even if it means spending a year behind the cash register at Old Navy.

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Related:

The Best and the Brightest Led America Off a Cliff, Chris Hedges, TruthDig.com

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  • Those who defy the system—people like Ralph Nader—are branded as irrational and irrelevant. These elite universities have banished self-criticism. They refuse to question a self-justifying system. Organization, technology, self-advancement and information systems are the only things that matter.
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Higher ed should aspire to higher purpose, Charles Neerland, StarTribune | MN
Graduates need to calculate and compute. But let's make sure they can ponder and dream, too.

Teaching to Student's, Not Industry's, Needs, Rebecca Bauer, English Teacher, St. Paul Central High School, in Minnesota 2020
How pressures from No Child Left Behind and standardized testing have sapped the exploration and creativity out of teaching.