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Ed Webb

What's Wrong With the American University System - Culture - The Atlantic - 6 views

  • it's awfully difficult to say, "Here's knowledge we don't need!" It sounds like book burning, doesn't it? What we'd say is that on the scale of priorities, we find undergraduate teaching to be more important than all the research being done.
  • Those people were teachers, in the true sense of the word. They were just as knowledgeable about their fields as anyone, but they had playful, imaginative minds. They could go on TV—Carl Sagan could talk about science, John Kenneth Galbraith could talk about economics. They weren't dumbing down their subjects. In fact, they were actually using their brains. The more you rely on lingo—"regressive discourses," "performativity"—the less you have to really think. You can just throw terms around and say, "Look, Ma, I'm a theorist!"
  • We believe the current criteria for admissions—particularly the SAT—are just so out of whack. It's like No Child Left Behind. It really is. It's one of the biggest crimes that's ever been perpetrated. I mean, you took the SAT! It's multiple choice, a minute and quarter per question. What does it really test? It tests how good you are at taking tests! At a big university like Berkeley, where there are going to be 30,000 applications, here's what they do. On top of each folder, without even reading through it, they write your SAT score. That's the first winnowing. So the 1600s get looked at first, and then down from there.
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  • One of the things that I find scariest at the moment is that so many bright people have no conception at all of life for any people but those in the upper middle class and above. They live a sheltered suburban life, go to college with other sheltered suburban kids, and assume that everyone's life has been like theirs. Some years ago a relative of mine graduated from Cambridge. I asked what his classmates would be doing after graduation and he said "management consulting." These were very bright people with zero experience in the business world who had spent the last three years barely able to manage their binge drinking, let alone manage any business. I'd trust the high school grad who rose through the ranks way more than these bright young things.
  • www.highereducationquestionmark.com
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