Tag Archives: Higher education

Reforming Higher Ed #2: Demand Rigor

Mathematics Lecture

Mathematics Lecture

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


Reforming Higher Ed #1: Stop Bribing Politicians?

For years, colleges and universities have pandered to politicians and government officials. Honorary degrees, named facilities, and administrators’ flattering remarks on public occasions provide the usual currency. Sweetheart employment contracts to family members and other benefits are sometimes conferred to assure access to and support from political officials. Occasionally, benefits are provided to an official directly. One such case came to light recently concerning Brevard Community College’s (BCC) concluding a lucrative book deal with Florida State Senator, Mike Haridopolos.

Mike Haridopolos

Sen. Mike Haridopolos

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Adrift without a Paddle

Academically AdriftWhile it is always good to examine evidence for or against one’s views, I strongly suspect that most college faculty greeted the recent publication of Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa with a high degree of “I could have told you so!” As reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Huffington Post, some 45% of students “did not demonstrate any statistically significant improvement in Collegiate Learning Assessment [CLA] performance during the first two years of college.” Moreover, 36% demonstrated no improvement after four years. After 30 years of teaching, none of this surprises me. In truth, my experience would have predicted more dismal results. Continue reading

The Necessity of Classroom Learning in College

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

U.S. Navy  Image:   090714-N-4995K-021.jpg

Seaman Terrence Oliver aboard USS Ronald Reagan

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

How to Market the Humanities

The culture war is nearly lost, and the philistines are winning. No, I don’t mean the culture war between social/political conservatives and liberals. That war rages on. The truly desperate struggle that cuts across the conservative/liberal divide is the fight against consumerism whereby consumers are, themselves, consumed by the search for lower prices, better deals, and the never-ending corporate hunt for exploitatively cheap labor anywhere in the world, resulting in greater concentrations of wealth for those at the top. And this consumerist culture finds overwhelming support in what I call educational philistinism. Continue reading