Tag Archives: academics

The ideals of learning versus authoritarian corporatism in higher ed


Coming out of a California JC in the 80s, paying only $640 a semester at UC Berkeley, and having valued what I learned at both places before going to IU-Bloomington, I don’t recognize all the complaining about terrible professors. Not all professors in my experience were incredible, but I never had a truly terrible professor. As far as I could tell, they all cared a lot about their work and wanted their students to appreciate their fields. Now, if we are talking about students not always being committed to the ideals of learning, and what effects that can have on the morale and justification for what happens on a campus, e.g., the oft-repeated circumstance of faculty being pressured to lower standards, make classes easier and less demanding, etc., then we are more on the right track. Resentment against professors and academics isn’t going to fix things. Figuring out ways to help students see the value of education, to do other things with their lives until they are ready to study seriously–that’s more constructive.

The Neoliberal corporatization of colleges & universities is a national, global tragedy. The money flowing disproportionately to management and away from the actual missions of instruction, learning, and sustained critical inquiry via a huge and growing reliance on adjunct faculty, paid poverty wages, and denied many of the dignities, like phones and offices, of the worthy work they do, is unethical & immoral. We’re already beginning to pay the price of less democracy and more authoritarianism in our lives.

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/22337-how-americas-great-university-system-is-getting-destroyed#comment-379980

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Waking up to learning with worksheets?


That is a nice comment (http://chronicle.com/article/A-Rescue-Plan-for-College/47452/). I thought I had exorcised this 2009 anti-academic demon in comment 19. The irony of Michael Prince’s pitch is that I woke up to learning as a freshman via the Bartholomae and Petrosky approach he denigrates and definitely not from worksheets or grammar skill and drill, or from the primitive and limited ideas about writing that brushed me in other disciplines. Prince wants some kind of Writing Across the Disciplines, but my English classes had much more sophisticated and self-conscious ideas about writing than anything I found in my biology, math, political science, or history classes.

We’ve got much of Michael Prince’s same sort of put-outness very recently from Jeffrey Zorn, whose essay against the field of rhetoric and composition was posted on the National Association of Scholars website a few weeks ago. Maybe you saw my tweet:

“English Compositionism as Fraud and Failure” | Jeffrey Zorn’s stimulating, frustrating misplaced jeremiad: ow.ly/ouFjV

The waves of reaction on the Wirting Program Administrator-List were interesting: outrage against this conservative reactionary Classics professor, mellowing to the recognition that this is how the public sees us to we need to write pieces that educate people like Zorn about the richness of the field. Much like Prince’s simple distrust of teaching rhetorical analysis, Zorn sees no value in Sondra Perl’s work, yet her close observational studies of basic writers in college have been huge in the writing process movement. So I don’t know if Zorn believes students should draft and revise or reflect on their writing processes or engage in peer editing, or if he believes these things and uses them but doesn’t know why they are such standard pedagogical moves in the field.