In a previous post, “Adrift without a Paddle,” I noted “an ever deeper descent into an anti-intellectualistic, narcissistic culture in which students pursue pre-employment, technical training with single-minded purpose while, nevertheless, they expect to be rewarded with high grades and degrees apart from real achievement.” This phenomenon of empty degrees worries government officials, business and community leaders, and the general public. What should be done to restore real achievement on the part of college students generally? Continue reading
Tag Archives: Colleges and Universities
In my last post, I advised, rather tepidly, those seeking faculty appointments to research each institution and write careful, individually tailored letters—in other words, to control what they can. Unfortunately, there is little else that they can control. Indeed, applying for employment, academic or otherwise, is unnecessarily dehumanizing and degrading. To submit an application for employment is to have it sucked into a “black hole” from which no light, not to mention information, ever escapes. Even the person hired hardly ever learns why he or she turned out to be so lucky.
The current academic job market, to state the matter as elegantly as possible, sucks. This has been its chronic condition ever since I emerged from graduate school in the 1970s. Now, of course, employment possibilities for faculty in higher education are further constrained by the dismal prospects affecting the rest of the economy. In truth, employment in general resembles the situation that occurred during the Great Depression, with little hope for significant recovery any time soon.
Another article in The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a recent study that concludes that “conditions imposed on part-time adjunct faculty threaten the quality of teaching.” The article itself and experts quoted in it clearly state that many part-time faculty are quite good teachers, that this is most definitely not a criticism of individuals. Rather, the problem is systemic insofar as part-time faculty contend with conditions such as large class size, having to travel from one campus to another, lack of adequate office space, lack of instructional technology, exclusion from departmental decision-making, exploitative compensation, etc., that virtually ensures lower quality of instruction. Continue reading
With the rapid growth of online course enrollments, a debate in higher education has broken out concerning whether online instruction is as good as, or even better than, traditional, face-to-face, classroom instruction. Partisans of online learning point to the success of traditional and for-profit institutions in delivering educational opportunities to cohorts of older and underrepresented students for whom on-campus learning presents otherwise
insurmountable challenges because of life/work schedules or distance. Defenders of classroom-based learning, albeit with technological enhancements, often come off as 21st-century Luddites who cravenly resist threats to their lifestyle. When questions about whether online learning saves money for institutions and students are added to the discussion, you have a witch’s brew of complicated issues. Continue reading