Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Alphabet soup

What happens when ACTA meets the AAC&U? Read about it here. My favorite snippet:

Post-talk reviews from other attendees were generally critical. While several gave Neal and her colleagues points for coming to talk to a skeptical audience, and others shared outrage at this point or that, the more common criticism was that the debate Neal was trying to engage was all a bit 1980s. No one is against reading classic works of history or literature, even by dead white men, they said. It’s just that the tough questions today aren’t core or non-core, at least to most of those here.


“I was sort of shocked at the lack of familiarity of where higher education is,” said Jeremy Bell, a philosophy professor and Academic Senate president at the College of San Mateo. With the Web and other sources, students have “limitless access to content,” Bell said, and it’s “archaic” to think that the key question is which required book will be put in front of students. “We need to teach them the skills to evaluate, not go to a model of 40 years ago,” he said.

Perhaps we should all send our kids to Wyoming Catholic College, which certainly won’t seek AAC&U membership anytime soon. (By the way, the article captures nicely my impression of the AAC&U from the times I’ve attended meetings.)

Discussions - 7 Comments

Lots of educrats seem to think that "teaching" consists of dumping students into the Amazon rainforest without a machete (or flashlight, for that matter). The whole "teacher as guide and authority" is passe to these folks, and using Western Lit. as a template for important cultural questions is just as weird in their eyes. Of course, they are benighted...what’s new?

Yes, by all means, Prof. Bell, let’s guide students to an educational model that’s all of, say, 4 minutes old.......

It’s impossible to tell what Prof. Bell is talking about, but that’s my experience with administrators and assessment guys generally. If the teacher is only a faciliator, it’s kind of tough to explain why he or she gets paid while everyone else has to pay.

facilitator, I guess, those bureaucratic words are hard to spell.

It’s mighty generous of them to still admit (however begrudgingly) a place for the classic works in higher education, "even by dead white men". The last line about the "skills to evaluate" is telling--higher education sees its rational enterprise as reduced to the formaility of Cartesian method; philosophy has been replaced by critical thinking. However, they refuse (or are incapable of) making pronouncements on what subjects deserve rational scrutiny in the first place, trivializing the high (Aristotle, for eg) by dumping it in with the low ( a course on Keanu Reeves). Of course, this leveling brand of educational relativism is not so committment free: they obviously prefer to teach multicultural studies than Shakespeare; even when they do teach Shakespeare they tend to judge him before the tribunal of their postmodern heroes.

Ivan,
Good to hear from you. Our provost came back from that meeting all excited about "integrative learning," which is all about "making connections and connecting the dots." That used to be called philosophy and theology.

"....philosophy has been replaced by critical thinking."
Instantly recalled T.S. Eliott’s preface to Josef Pieper’s "Leisure: The Basis of Culture." The great battles {of the mind} are continually re-fought. But does it *have* to be done at such a low level? Salute to Mr. Kenneally.

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