curriculum

The Fading of Liberal Education

The best ranking of undergraduate institutions by their general education is ACTA’s What Will They Learn? project. The evaluation looks at seven core subjects (composition, literature, foreign languages, U.S. government or history, economics, math, and science) and tallies whether schools require all students to show sufficient knowledge and proficiency in each one. The ACTA approach goes […]

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Remember the Men of Marathon

On January 20, 1961, in his inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy stated that “the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God” and that, as a nation, “we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to […]

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Classic books

Books for Book Virgins and Book-o-phobes

The annual controversy over books assigned to freshmen as summer reading is upon us.  Spoiler alerts.  Odysseus makes it home. Hamlet dies. The Whale wins. Oh, not those books.  We are talking more about White Girls (by Hilton Als, 2013) and Purple Hibiscus (by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2003).  White Girls, as one reviewer puts it, is “an inquiry into otherness” by a […]

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The New History Guidelines Are Better

I previously wrote about the new AP U.S. History guidelines (APUSH). The guidelines generated considerable criticism—in so small part because they seemed intent on evading state guidelines regarding the instruction of U.S. history. Basically: the earlier guidelines heavily emphasized themes of race, class, and gender, at the expense of more “traditional” types of U.S. history […]

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More Rumblings at CUNY

I’ve written before about the Pathways plan, a sensible proposal  to create  a common core curriculum at the City University of New York (CUNY). It has been sponsored by the administration of Chancellor Matthew Goldstein and approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees. The extraordinary–and student-unfriendly–process that currently exists at CUNY contradicts the vision of […]

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The University of Chicago Chooses Decline

The University of Chicago hit two mile-markers in its decade-long transformation this week. The first, generally celebrated by students, alumni, and their parents, is a new high-water mark in the school’s US News & World Report ranking. The University now shares the fourth spot with Columbia, rising from 12 a few years ago and leapfrogging […]

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Higher Education’s ‘Obesity’ Problem

Open a marketing brochure for any college or university in the United States and you’ll find an info-graphic touting the variety and number of degree programs that the institution offers.  The more options, the rationale goes, the more likely a student will find a desired specialty.  The distinction between programs can be subtle, for instance […]

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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 […]

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Why Common Core Standards Are Likely To Fail

< I argued yesterday that the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) is both necessary and a good thing–but I must add that it just can’t work now. It has the potential to transform American K-12 education, but the plain fact is that it is destined to fail because current teacher education programs neither prepare […]

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Common Core Standards Can Save Us

  It’s no secret that most high school graduates are unprepared for college. Every year, 1.7 million first-year college students are enrolled in remedial classes at a cost of about $3 billion annually, the Associated Press recently reported. Scores on the 2011 ACT college entrance exam showed that only 1 in 4 high school graduates […]

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Writer Purged for Causing Distress

Taking note of a posting by Naomi Schaefer Riley, John Rosenberg took a hard look at what passes for cutting-edge scholarship in Black Studies–and wasn’t impressed with what he found. Rosenberg’s post became all the timelier when the Chronicle announced that it had removed Riley from the Brainstorm blog. In an editor’s note that could […]

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A Major Expansion of Online Courses

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced yesterday that they will partner in a collaborative new higher-education venture, to be called EdX, that will offer a range of online courses to potentially tens of thousands of student worldwide, most of whom will not be enrolled at either Harvard or MIT. The EdX courses, […]

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UCLA: Still Obsessed with Diversity

What is it with universities in California? Financially strapped, troubled by protesters making impossible demands, and worried about the declining value of their academic programs, many of the state’s great universities decide to…redouble their commitment to a fast-fading political ideology. The latest example is the impending vote by the faculty of UCLA’s College of Letters […]

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What “Western Governors” Does Well

On most any college campus, first-year courses with more than a few dozen students have a high proportion of bored, disaffected, and/or uncertain students. Sometimes they feel that way because course materials just don’t excite them, or because they don’t seem relevant to their backgrounds and futures. But another reason is that neither the pace […]

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Rallying Around Che at a ‘Literary’ Conference

When charges of doctrinaire Marxism are leveled against professors, the standard procedure is to charge the accusers with misinterpretation—they just can’t understand the subtleties of the literary and philosophical profundities being dispensed. In English departments these theories have touched deconstruction, new historicism, post-colonialism, gender studies, disability studies, etc. Most in the field–promoters and detractors alike–know […]

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The Radicalization of the University of California

Are the 234,000 students enrolled in the massive University of California system receiving an education or a re-education? It’s the latter–or something fairly close–according to “A Crisis of Competence,” a report just released by the California Association of Scholars (CAS), the Golden State affiliate of the National Association of Scholars. The devastating 87-page report addressed […]

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The ‘Inequality’ Movement–A Campus Product

The sharp political focus on inequality, driven into the public mind by the Occupy movement and endorsed by President Obama in his State of the Union message, was born, not on the street, but on the campus. It thrives there, mostly under the aegis of elite universities such as Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Columbia and Johns […]

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The Terrible Textbooks of Freshman Comp

Freshman composition class at many colleges is propaganda time, with textbooks conferring early sainthood on President Obama and lavishing attention on writers of the far left–Howard Zinn, Christopher Hedges, Peter Singer and Barbara Ehrenreich, for instance–but rarely on moderates, let alone anyone right of center. Democrats do very well in these books, but Abraham Lincoln–when […]

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On “The Birth of Critical University Studies”

The first sentences of Jeffrey Williams’ essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Deconstructing Academe: The Birth of Critical University Studies”, sounds like an introduction to the many conservative and libertarian critiques of higher education that have appeared in recent decades, starting with Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind, Martin Anderson’s Imposters in […]

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A Struggle to Reform the CUNY Curriculum

There have been two interesting, if somewhat under the radar, higher education developments recently in New York City. First, on Tuesday, the CUNY Board of Trustees continued its consideration of the administration’s proposed general-education curriculum plan, called Pathways. The proposal calls for a mandatory 30 credits of core offerings for all CUNY students, divided between […]

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The Ruinous Reign of Race-and-Gender Historians

In a ruling likely to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Montana Supreme Court last month upheld the state constitution’s prohibition on corporations directly spending on state campaigns. For those concerned with academic matters, the case is important for reasons quite unrelated to political debates about Citizens United. In a significant case involving […]

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Best Books of 2011

What were the best books of the year on higher education? A panel of ten prominent people in the field, invited to vote by Minding the Campus, picked as their top two choices, “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses” by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa; and “Crazy U: One Dad’s Crash Course in Getting […]

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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 […]

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Lady Gaga Makes It to Harvard

                        By Charlotte Allen What is it about academics and Lady Gaga? Last year it was a freshman writing course at the University of Virginia titled “GaGa for Gaga: Sex, Gender, and Identity.” This fall there’s an upper-division sociology course at the University of […]

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How Much Is Western Civ Valued on Campus?

Not far into an important book published recently is a table displaying results for one question on the North American Academic Study Survey, a poll of professors, administrators, and students administered in 1999.  The survey is the basis for The Still Divided Academy by the late-Stanley Rothman, April Kelly-Roessner, and Matthew Roessner, which reviews the results and draws balanced conclusions.  […]

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