Betrayed by Higher Ed...Again

David Clemens

My post “Betrayed by Higher Ed” has occasioned so many comments and emails that I want to offer a group response.  Readers here and abroad expressed incredulity and dismay that a student of mine had reached college sophomore level without reading a single book.  My evidence is anecdotal, but while book-free students may not be the norm, neither are they the exception.  Unfortunately, even when students have read books in school, those books were usually politically-correct, multiculturalist drivel.  This is not news, as the academy has now devolved into third generation dumbing down.  A high school teacher emailed that

There is a pervasive attitude that `the kids can't do it.’ Bullshit. Teachers won't let them because it's `easier’ to just read it all aloud in class (since it takes up more time) or just read some of it.  In a meeting today . . . two of my colleagues brought up dropping [Fahrenheit 451] since their students `couldn't handle it.’  An AP teacher shared an assignment for Of Mice and Men. She passed around journal books where the students summarize each chapter on the left side of the page and then draw a picture on the right to represent a 'theme' of the chapter.

This is what passes for reading and for writing, and it’s not just in high school.  Electronica’s erosion of reading ability means that reading books is no longerexpected at any level.  In a presentation last year, the Columbia University Core Curriculum directors sheepishly admitted that even their celebrated and historic program now finds it must resort to having students read excerpts rather than entire books.

Impoverished reading begets impoverished writing.  I also heard from Will Fitzhugh of The Concord Review who struggles to preserve the meaningfully-researched high school history essay, a Herculean task when the previously mentioned AP teacher also “doesn't assign an essay anymore because they are `too painful’ for her to read.

So if teachers don’t have students read and don’t have students write, what do they do?  In The Intercollegiate Review (print only), R. V. Young writes about the decay of Freshman Comp., using as his example Jonathan Alexander’s composition class at U.C. Irvine devoted to developing “sexual literacy.”  According to his U.C.I. listing, Dr. Alexander “works at the intersection of the fields of writing studies and sexuality studies, where he explores what discursive theories of sexuality have to teach us about literacy and literate practice in pluralistic democracies.”  Dr. Young understandably despairs of reforming what he finds to be not an educational system at all but “a curious and uneven amalgam of job training, indoctrination, and custodial care.” Amen, brother.

  • Share

Most Commented

October 31, 2023

1.

University of Washington Violated Non-Discrimination Policy, Internal Report Finds

A faculty hiring committee at the University of Washington “inappropriately considered candidates’ races when determining the order of offers,” provided “disparate op......

January 24, 2024

2.

After Claudine

The idea has caught on that the radical left overplayed its hand in DEI and is now vulnerable to those of us who seek major reforms. This is not, however, the first time that the a......

November 27, 2023

3.

The Ohio State Reports: DEI Contributions in Practice

New documents from Ohio State University detail how "diversity" factored into the evaluation of candidates considered for various departments....

Most Read

May 15, 2015

1.

Where Did We Get the Idea That Only White People Can Be Racist?

A look at the double standard that has arisen regarding racism, illustrated recently by the reaction to a black professor's biased comments on Twitter....

January 24, 2024

2.

After Claudine

The idea has caught on that the radical left overplayed its hand in DEI and is now vulnerable to those of us who seek major reforms. This is not, however, the first time that the a......

October 12, 2010

3.

Ask a Scholar: What is the True Definition of Latino?

What does it mean to be Latino? Are only Latin American people Latino, or does the term apply to anyone whose language derived from Latin?...