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.
I don’t see much love for college faculty in publications from the CCRC. And in this piece, faculty, staff, and administrators are all lumped together in finding “practices” and “strategies” (esp. on pp. 40-41) that help students get through gatekeeper courses. What I need to know though is what sort of practices and strategies, and in particular, which curricula and textbooks and practices in FYC courses help marginal students. Do linked courses help? What possible writing and reading emphases, from the teeming panorama of ones available, need to be pursued? Where are the “brass tacks” of successful pedagogy?
Speaking of marginal students, grabbed off Twitter from http://twitter.com/educatedlife: “NPR: Who Needs College, And Who Shouldn’t Go? #education http://bit.ly/5rODy2.” The students who benefit the most from the push to college are those on the cusp, who NEED and hunger for a challenge, sometimes without knowing it. Take a kid from the trailer park, throw the wheel of poverty at him, with all its cruel spikes, and then send him to a JC and see what can happen when he discovers communion with the world of cultivated minds (i.e., minds themselves educated, with high standards, and that have not gone to seed, that still burn with a passion for their disciplines and for ideas). He might go on to a successful collegiate career and a couple of advanced degrees. If you’d given him remixed dross from the high school formulary, challenging him not at all when first he met the gatekeeper courses, he would have ended up as a statistic of failure, an uninvoked human resource, and quite possibly another antisocial problem, an adult delinquent, a recidivist of some sort or other.