Self-Censorship Is Easy to Learn, Particularly in Dormitories

William Deresiewicz is an essayist and author of two books, Excellent Sheep, the Miseducation of the American Elite and A Jane Austen Education:  How Six Novels Taught Me about Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter. He was born in Englewood, N.J. in 1964, graduated from Columbia, taught at Scripps and Yale and now … Continue reading Self-Censorship Is Easy to Learn, Particularly in Dormitories

How Students Intimidate Professors and Stymie Learning

Hungry for love and it’s feeding time, Alice Cooper wrote in his 1991 classic song, “Feed My Frankenstein.” Academia has created its own Frankenstein with its speech codes, groupthink enforcement, and discouraging of dissent. This Frankenstein isn’t hungry for love – it’s hungry for power.  And academics themselves have belatedly discovered that they’re on the … Continue reading How Students Intimidate Professors and Stymie Learning

Self-Esteem High, Learning Not So Much

Here’s a statistic that should make every college teacher cringe.  From 1976 to 2010, the rate of high school students graduating with an “A” grade–point average doubled.  They didn’t increase their work load, and their test scores didn’t rise correspondingly, but their teachers gave them the highest grade possible again and again. The impact of … Continue reading Self-Esteem High, Learning Not So Much

Don’t Worry Too Much About the Higher Ed Bubble

Jonathan Marks, professor of politics at Ursinus College and an expert on Rousseau, has posted an important article on Inside Higher Ed admonishing conservatives for their seeming eagerness to see the higher education establishment collapse under the weight of excessive costs, insupportable student loans, and graduates ill-prepared for the workforce.  In “Conservatives and the Higher … Continue reading Don’t Worry Too Much About the Higher Ed Bubble

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover, But…

You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, or its title, but how about from an extended interview with the authors? On November 2, Inside Higher Ed carried such an interview with the three authors of a new book entitled Occupying the Academy. The authors, Christine Clark (a professor of multicultural education at UNLV), Kenneth … Continue reading Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover, But…

Three Things Colleges Don’t Want Us to Know

Universities are in the knowledge business, and the creation and dissemination of it is at the very core of what colleges do. Yet some forms of knowledge about higher education itself are either unknown, or hidden from the public. Why? Release of the information would prove embarrassing and possibly even costly to the school. 1. … Continue reading Three Things Colleges Don’t Want Us to Know

Don’t Buy the Snake Oil of Common Core

J.M. Anderson has offered an increasingly common defense of Common Core’s standards for English language arts and mathematics.  They can help us to achieve any utopian educational goals one could wish for. The only fly in the ointment is the quality of our teaching corps. In actuality, 46 states have bought some very expensive snake … Continue reading Don’t Buy the Snake Oil of Common Core

What Will They Learn? Maybe Not Much

“Academically Adrift“, a study by two sociologists – Richard Arum of NYU and Josipa Roksa of the University of Virginia – demonstrated that 36 percent of our college students graduate with little or no measurable gains in their core academic skills – areas like expository writing and analytical reasoning.  Their diplomas are literally tickets to … Continue reading What Will They Learn? Maybe Not Much

Students ‘Adrift’? Don’t Blame Them

I haven’t read Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, and frankly, I’m not sure that I want to. Having had high expectations of other widely touted books on higher education—most recently, Hacker and Dreifus’s Higher Education?, Martha Nussbaum’s Not For Profit, Mark Taylor’s Crisis on Campus—and having been sadly … Continue reading Students ‘Adrift’? Don’t Blame Them

Banks Are Bad Things—Don’t We All Know That?

It’s retro-Sixties season at Syracuse University, as students hold protests and firm up plans to hold even more protests against the university’s plan to have James Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co, speak at commencement on May 16. “Chase, “Chase, Chase, go away, don’t come back any day!” Syracuse students chanted at … Continue reading Banks Are Bad Things—Don’t We All Know That?

Banks Are Bad Things—Don’t We All Know That?

It’s retro-Sixties season at Syracuse University, as students hold protests and firm up plans to hold even more protests against the university’s plan to have James Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co, speak at commencement on May 16. “Chase, “Chase, Chase, go away, don’t come back any day!” Syracuse students chanted at … Continue reading Banks Are Bad Things—Don’t We All Know That?

You Don’t Have To Be A Professor

Given that it’s been 30 years since I left graduate studies in English Lit, I don’t spend much time reading up on the field. Still, when I saw the provocative headline, “The Big Lie About the ‘Life of the Mind,’” on a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education I knew immediately that this … Continue reading You Don’t Have To Be A Professor

Why Don’t More Graduate

Less than 60 percent of students at our four-year colleges complete their studies and graduate. That depressing statistic has drawn many critics, and now it has occasioned a book, Crossing the Finish Line, by three well-connected members of the academic establishment–William Bowen, Matthew Chingos, and Michael McPherson (hereafter, BCM). The authors obtained some data on … Continue reading Why Don’t More Graduate

Shouldn’t All Students Learn Economics?

By Maurice Black & Erin O’Connor The current upheavals in the financial markets have left everyone confused. But in the midst of all the confusion, one thing has become crystal clear: A free country simply must be an economically and financially literate country. Amid the waves of failing banks, roiling stock exchanges, massive government bailouts, … Continue reading Shouldn’t All Students Learn Economics?

Why Read In Advance? Professors Don’t.

I don’t know who coined the phrase “a guide on the side, not a sage on the stage” as a pedagogic principle, but when I ran the words through Google, I got 196,000 links. The adage is the cornerstone of the teaching style variously known as “cooperative,” “collaborative,” “interactive,” or “student-centered” learning—part of the educational … Continue reading Why Read In Advance? Professors Don’t.

Accepted To Harvard Law? You Don’t Need Grades.

If you think that student life at an ultra-elite law school is a page ripped out of The Paper Chase—one long, frighteningly competitive grade grub under the icy eye of a clone of the movie’s fictional Prof. Charles W. Kingsford Jr.—think again. At Yale Law School, grades have been strictly optional since the 1960s (students … Continue reading Accepted To Harvard Law? You Don’t Need Grades.

The Online Ban in Minnesota

The State of Minnesota has cracked down on free on-line courses offered by Coursera, founded by Stanford computer science professors. A spokesman for the state’s office of Higher Education said that Minnesota is simply “enforcing a longstanding state law requiring colleges to get the government’s permission to offer instruction within its borders.” How this state … Continue reading The Online Ban in Minnesota

Our College Graduation Rate Doesn’t Matter

In his January 29 Forum piece, Peter Sacks says that I engaged in “nitpicking” in a blog post expressing disdain for President Obama’s higher education agenda. He’s free to call my skeptical view about federal initiatives to lower the costs of college whatever he wants. But in my opinion, it is naive to believe politicians … Continue reading Our College Graduation Rate Doesn’t Matter

Universities, Free Speech and the Rise of the Spit-Viper Left

Free speech on campuses has come on hard times. By now, we are all too familiar with the litany: invited speakers disinvited, talks by honored guests disrupted by shouting protesters, vandalism and riots forcing the cancellation of events, campus security announcing it cannot guarantee public safety. The disruptions and attacks come almost entirely from an … Continue reading Universities, Free Speech and the Rise of the Spit-Viper Left

The Inmates Are Running the Asylum

Radical sex warriors at Reed College tried to shout down Kimberly Peirce, partly because she didn’t use a trans actor in her 1999 movie Boys Don’t Cry, about the murder of a transgender male.  This is an excerpt from Robby Soave’s blog on the event at Reason.com: “The most revealing comment came from Lucia Martinez, … Continue reading The Inmates Are Running the Asylum

Dismissing the Reality of Affirmative Action

Gallup and Inside Higher Ed co-hosted a conference in Washington last week, determined to ignore the results of a Gallup survey for IHE showing that nearly two-thirds of Americans oppose affirmative action in college admissions. About 75 to 100 attendees, mostly college administrators, focused on reaction to the Supreme Court decision last June 23rd— Fisher … Continue reading Dismissing the Reality of Affirmative Action

The Endless Muddle of Transgender Policy

(Part II) The incoherence of the new Office for Civil Rights transgender policy becomes even clearer when one looks beyond bathrooms to locker rooms, and the athletic teams they serve. The “Dear Colleague” letter states that “Title IX regulations permit a school to operate or sponsor sex-segregated athletics teams when selection for such teams is … Continue reading The Endless Muddle of Transgender Policy

Hey, Stanford: ‘Western Civ Has Gotta Grow’

Back in 1987, in a paroxysm of self-contradiction, Jesse Jackson engaged in what would have gotten him tossed in the clink had he done anything comparable in Djakarta or Chungking.  He led a crowd of banner-waving students at Stanford, taking advantage of a western nation’s heritage of free assembly and free speech, even when the … Continue reading Hey, Stanford: ‘Western Civ Has Gotta Grow’

Invited Racist Banned at Williams– Was That Right?

When President Adam Falk of Williams College wrote to the campus community on February 18, to say that he was disinviting John Derbyshire, he didn’t offer much explanation.  Derbyshire, who had been invited by students as part of a program called “Uncomfortable Conversations,” was supposed to talk about immigration. Falk said that Derbyshire had “crossed … Continue reading Invited Racist Banned at Williams– Was That Right?

Fisher II: A Mystery Solved While Asians Get Their Voice

Many legal experts were surprised in June of 2013 when the U.S Supreme Court handed down its long-awaited decision in the University of Texas affirmative action case, Fisher v. Texas. The mere fact that the Court had taken up the case when it could easily have declared it moot indicated to many that at least … Continue reading Fisher II: A Mystery Solved While Asians Get Their Voice