June 30, 2004

Here's A New One

You know, I might be a bit more inclined to read this article sans eyerolling if it came across a bit more like a research piece and a bit less like a whining polemic of doom.

Let's see: Conservatives are money-grubbing bastards? Check.

Capitalism is ruining everything! Everything! Check. (Bonus points for tiresome Thoreau quote. Thanks, English major! You get a gold star!)

Corporate culture makes us mindless sheeple! Brainwashing! WHERE IS THE REVOLUTION, MAN?! Check.

Liberals are only doing it For The Children! Check.

Condescending attitude toward the poor, ignorant, and even (gasp!) religious students he's trying to drag out of the conservative quagmire? Check.

It's an assault! Gulag! Re-education camps! The end of the world as we know it! Yeeearrrrggghh! Check.

See, I do worry about the rising cost of college, the seemingly diminished return on the investment, and the ways in which students view the piece of paper as merely another rung on the job ladder, instead of as a valuable learning experience.

But using these very real concerns to just grind the same ol' partisan axe? Not. Helping.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at June 30, 2004 01:40 PM

The first is AAUPs response to David Horowitz's academic bill of rights. http://www.aaup.org/statements/SpchState/billofrights.htm

The latter to AAUPs response to Students for Academic Freedom.


Posted by: Dil at June 30, 2004 02:35 PM

Heck, BAW, I thought it was a pretty accurate summation of things. No whining at all.

Posted by: Michael at June 30, 2004 06:35 PM

You forgot! Comparison between modern American conservatives and Adolf Hitler? Check!

Posted by: Laura at June 30, 2004 06:37 PM

It is a comparison that is fairly accurate. Preemption, racism, utter disregard of international law. Go for it.

Posted by: Dil at June 30, 2004 07:52 PM

How scary it must be for him in his little academic cocoon to slowly watch its walls being eaten away by the voracious corporate monster. Get this man a Xanax and a whiskey, stat. Wait, there're fundamentalists in college now too? Forget the booze, just give him a gun; put him out of his misery.

Posted by: Tom at June 30, 2004 11:09 PM

Oh, come on, Tom. That's just silly (although nicely snarky). The article is mostly about the reality of teaching students and getting them to examine their unexamined assumptions. Read it again, would you?

Posted by: Michael at July 1, 2004 09:40 AM

Michael -

I work at a research University which has just recently (last decade or so) created an entire campus that is heavily funded by private industry, so I understand the ambivalence. I see the good that comes out of the arrangement: better research funding, more real-world opportunities for students, less pressure on the University's coffers to fund cutting-edge stuff, and I know that concerns over the drawbacks--how much say do the corporations have in the educational aspects of the university, whether they're turning education into just a means to an end instead of a valuable process in itself--are very real. I would have liked an analysis beyond, "Students can't find jobs in this economy!" (which isn't even as true now as it was when I got my BA pre-internet economy bubble) and the whole Horowitz-Hitler parallel. Note to everyone: please stop that. Surely there are other historical parallels you could draw that wouldn't simultaneously dilute the very real evil of Hitler and make you look like an hysterical loon. Godwin's law, people, Godwin's law. Blame Usenet.

His stance seems to be that only brave liberal English professors will save The Children from becoming brainless automatons in the service of the almighty dollar, because only these professors can truly think. But alas, he continues, his days are numbered because he will probably be persecuted by The VRWC. Fortunately the VRWC doesn't seem to have a stranglehold on The Chronicle--yet (insert ominous music here). Excuse me, but my eyes have just rolled out of my head.

I've worked in the real world and in the university, and there's a helluva lot more independent thought and action out there by young folks than he's giving anyone credit for, particularly his own students. His academic blinders are showing here, I'm afraid.

I'm glad he's encouraging skepticism and critical thought, but maybe he could do it without being a condescending prig.

Posted by: BAW at July 1, 2004 09:41 AM

I could stomach it until he suggested that we should read The Nation. Somebody is helped by reading the brain dead twaddle of those Stalinists?

The author ought to get out and see the world. His assumptions are thorough BS.

How awful that folks want a good job and a decent life! And it's this moron's job to deter them from it.

Examining unexamined assumptions? The dumb prof ought to try it. First, he ought to examine his own pea-brain assumption that he has some special truth to impart. As the webmaster has noted, his essay is a compedium of dreary cliches.

American corporations are run by middle class Americans who mostly put themselves through college with the help of student loans and part time jobs. Good for them.

Posted by: Stephen at July 1, 2004 01:42 PM