Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Why I’m in this business

I spent the better part of the last eight hours in the company of some perfectly delightful former students, all early in their academic careers. As part of our annual Liberal Arts Symposium, we invited some young professorial and graduate student alumni back to campus, to show our current students what might happen if they took this stuff seriously. While I of course couldn’t gauge the student response by my own, but I was extremely pleased to be bouncing between two panels populated by people like this fellow, this young sociologist, and a young woman who’s enjoying this experience. The papers were interesting, and reflected something of the sparks they set off when they were in the classroom over the past fifteen years.

After the academic formalities were over, we had time to visit over drinks and snacks. These were serious thoughtful people. I don’t need to agree with them about everything, but I do know that they’ve carried something of their experience with my colleagues and me with them. The students who encounter them will be in pretty good hands.

I feel more like a proud poppa than is probably healthy. (Of couse, I’d brag even more on my own kids.)

Discussions - 5 Comments

Although, one has to admit it's not really "a business". It's a tax funded institution, being an arm of the government. Interestingly, it's self perpetuating in that your purpose seems to be to produce more professors/careers funded by the government.

I suppose if the academy was not such a cess pool of the hard left I would be more open to it's continued tax funded existence.

Yes, this sounds grumpy, but it is the other side of the coin. Today's students simply are not "in good hands"...

On a slightly different note, I share your joy Joe. Having students come back to the various schools where I've taught and have them want to argue some point that's been gnawing on them for a couple of years and was addressed in a college course, having them tell you that they were ahead because they had already read all the books on the syllabus, and to watch them grow and hopefully surpass your own knowledge is a great delight. You sit with great content knowing that you've done a job well done and poured every ounce of knowledge into the kids. Truly, I constantly wished that many of them with fine minds and exceptional characters were my own children. And, I suppose, in a way, they were.


I teach at a private institution, so I'm not altogether certain that your objection applies.

In addition, I also enjoy visiting with former students who aren't in or aspiring to the professoriate. There is, for example, the young woman who has been commissioned into the Army Reserve and is currently attending law school. And the wife of one of my guests today, who homeschools their children. And the numerous attorneys who are working in law firms big and small, or for various branches of various governments. And the fellow who encountered a colleague at the Y recently, telling him that he still is grateful for the stimulation he received as an undergraduate, even as he works in public affairs for a large telecommunications company.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I've had lots of students over the years of whom I was and still am fond. I'm in touch with lots of them, and they continue to bear the marks of the education they received.

I teach at a private institution, so I'm not altogether certain that your objection applies.

I would be curious as to how much of your operating/capital/etc. comes from public funds. We know for certain that many of your students receive Pell Grants and the like, and I would be surprised if major grants/contracts from various government bodies of one sort or the other are not part of your normal course of business. I would also be suprised if your institution pays any property tax to local government. The fact that most of your student body receives loans guaranteed by my tax dollars would in itself justify a legislative solution to the wacko ideology that passes for "education" on your campus. Still, yours is at least an effort to be something other than a hole for the wealth that the rest of us produce.

As to your litany of positive experiences, I am not debating that - and remember my own fondly. I am pointing out that along with these experiences, there is a disturbing amount of negatives that far outweigh the positives and force us to question the whole 'structure' of the modern academy and it's place in our culture and government. I suppose I had the same gut reaction to your post as I do to say, an ambulance chaser like presidential hopeful Edwards who claims he “makes medicine safer” by scamming doctors out of millions in bogus Cerebral Palsy cases. The inward focus in the midst of outer chaos is noticed…


Our students get some federal grants, etc., but as a small liberal arts college, my institution isn't exactly a major government contractor. It's also not a "cesspool" of the hard left (or of the hard right, for that matter). You can get a pretty decent education (not indoctrination) here.

Let me repeat in different terms something else I said earlier. The point of my undertaking is to cultivate in my students a taste for a life of thoughtful inquiry, the kind of life that can be pursued almost as well (iif not actually better) outside the academy as in. I've encountered lots of former students who exemplify something like this; while I obviously can't prove that there's a connection between the tastes and inclinations they have cultivated and their lives as "productive members of society" (which they are), I have little doubt that the two are in fact connected.

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