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Higher ed is drowning and we weren’t the only people to notice

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From sociologist Christian Smith at Chronicle Review:

BS is undergraduate “core” curricula that are actually not core course systems but loose sets of distribution requirements, representing uneasy truces between turf-protecting divisions and departments intent on keeping their classes full, which students typically then come to view as impositions to “get out of the way.”

BS is the grossly lopsided political ideology of the faculty of many disciplines, especially in the humanities and social sciences, creating a homogeneity of worldview to which those faculties are themselves oblivious, despite claiming to champion difference, diversity, and tolerance.

BS is the ascendant “culture of offense” that shuts down the open exchange of ideas and mutual accountability to reason and argument. It is university leaders’ confused and fearful capitulation to that secular neo-fundamentalist speech-policing.

Culture of offense? “Offended” is rapidly becoming a synonym for “unemployable.” Most employers hire someone to solve problems, not to create them, and to address the needs of offended persons, not to be that person.

He adds, inter alia,

I too feel helpless. It seems the most I can do now is to try to preserve whatever valuable remains in undergraduate liberal-arts education. Real change will most likely happen long-term and be forced on academe from the outside against its own lumbering inertia. That will not be pretty, nor will it necessarily produce anything better. We cannot take for granted a happy self-correction. In my view, genuinely positive changes in higher education, if they ever do happen, will have to combine some forms of visionary traditionalism and organizational radicalism. We will need people with the capacity to retrieve and revitalize the best of higher education’s past and restructure it organizationally in ways that are most effective in the future. More.

To fix the problem, one must first get past the idea that consciousness is an illusion and that our brains are shaped for fitness, not for truth. Otherwise, just join the termite colony and eat the foundations while there is anything left.

See also: The rigor mortis of science: The war on measurement itself has commenced

3 Replies to “Higher ed is drowning and we weren’t the only people to notice

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    None of this will change until federal funding for universities, and especially the guarantee for student loans, disappears ENTIRELY.

    As long as the funding and loans are there, the vicious circle will accelerate without end.

  2. 2
    aarceng says:

    I thought at first BS meant Bachelor of Science.

  3. 3
    Bob O'H says:

    aarceng – the academic degree ladder in the US goes
    BS – err, ask the president of the USA to explain
    MS – more S
    PhD – Piled High and Deeper

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