7/20/2004 02:42:00 PM|W|P|SDG|W|P|After yesterday's incredibly cynical post about college life, I was overjoyed to come across this brainstorm later yesterday. Anyone concerned about the state of our colleges and universities, owes it to himself to take a few moments to read Swarthmore Professor Timothy Burke's blueprint for the 21st Century College. Burke proposes an institution which eschews an unholy trinity of problems in modern academe, which have served to undermine and obscure the purpose high education. Burke's complaints - and solutions - are worth quoting at length:
  1. The haphazard, disconnected curricular design of both liberal arts colleges and research universities, both the range of subjects covered and the connections between areas of study. Rather than glossing over the relationship between integrative and specialized knowledge and trusting everything to turn out for the best, as most conventional liberal arts colleges do, or actively favoring specialized knowledge, as most research universities do, this curriculum proposes a much more consciously and rigorously organized relationship between integrative and specialized knowledge and between academic study and practical know-how.
  2. The insular, timid and self-confirming character of a great deal of contemporary academic practice. This outline responds to this both by widening the labor pool of potential instructors and by systematically directing faculty towards communicating with wider publics while also demanding that faculty broaden their knowledge and intellectual practice rather than narrowing themselves towards more and more inward-looking forms of specialization. Rather than the laissez-faire spirit of most contemporary academic institutions, in which generalism is only one of many options for professional development and a responsibility to wider public discourse and needs is not a requirement, the 21st Century College would make these central conditions of continued employment. As part of this reorganization, this blueprint also advises the abolition of conventional academic departments and units.
  3. The rise of the expensive "full-service" model of higher education coupled with the pervasive resurgence of in loco parentis, of the college or university as "nanny" determined to manage most aspects of community life and ethos. This blueprint counsels abandoning the vast majority of services provided by most colleges and universities while also maintaining a scrupulous disinterest in the private lives of students, faculty and administrators.
Despite the shortness of Burke's document, I find there's quite a lot here to process, though I my initial reaction is to welcome the premise bold hopeful premise and an excellent point of departure. I'll defnitely have to blog about this later. Professor Burke is seeking $500M to get things going; if you have that lying around under the seat cushions of your sofa, go visit his page and hit the tip jar! |W|P|109034992309837146|W|P|The 21st Century College|W|P|7/19/2004 01:25:00 PM|W|P|SDG|W|P|Ladies and gentlemen, for a deft description of the leitmotif of so much the modern college campus, please give it up for Mr. Tom Wolfe, from his upcoming novel, I am Charlotte Simmons [Edited for language. Snippet props to Rolling Stone]:
"Everywhere you looked at this university there were people knocking the 'the frats' and the frat boys...the Administration, which blamed them for the evils of alochol, pot, Ecstasy...the dorks, GPA geeks, lesbos, homobos, bi-bos, S&Mbos, blackbos, Latinos, Indians, from India and the reservation, and other whining diversoids, who blamed them for racism, sexism, classism, whatever the f--- that was, chauvinism, anti-Semitism, fringe-rightism, homophobia...The only value ingrained at this institution was a weepy tolerance for losers..."
|W|P|109025816217079846|W|P|Woot!|W|P|7/05/2004 09:02:00 AM|W|P|SDG|W|P|So where is a child safer? At a Catholic church or in a public school? Many people would reflexively say a public school given the media's saturation coverage of the Catholic church's shameful revelations about the conduct of some of its priests and the reactions of some of its bishops. But there doesn't seem to be such media interest in a new federal report written by a Hofstra University professor which suggests that nearly one in ten public school students - 4.5 million nationwide - is the victim of some form of sexual abuse. By contrast, the Catholic church says that between 1950 and 2002 they were able to catalog 11,000 cases of abuse. Now, in fairness, the studies do not necessarily use the same definition of harassment or the same time frame and the church's study has been criticized for gross underreporting, but it still raises some alarming questions, both about our schools and our media. Let's assume, for a moment, that the Catholic church only found one in a hundred cases of harassment in its 52 year study. That still comes out to only one-quarter the number of cases as the public schools, in precisely four times as many years! Unwittingly, CNN dredges up some good quotes which I think illustrate precisely the problem we face. Quoth Michael Pons of the National Education Association:
Statistically, public schools remain one of the safest places for children to be.
Now, I'm curious as to what the other "safest places" would be...perhaps at home or in private schools?!?!?! I'm not sure. CNN didn't follow up. One is also left wondering why this quote from Paul Houston of the American Association of School Administrators, but which could just as easily be the protestation of a Catholic archbishop (but would be snickered at and undermined later in the article if it were) gets such sympathetic play:
Out of the millions of teachers and millions of employees out there, you're talking about a very small number who are doing these inappropriate things.
The fact remains that public schools are a cherished icon of the political left and their media sympathizers while the Catholic church is, in many ways, a politically conservative institution. The church is "anti-gay," "anti-women," and "anti-choice" - an important holy trinity of the modern left. That makes it a guilt-free bullseye for target practice problems when appear, unlike basically-good, progressive institutions. For those that don't believe in bias media reporting on religious issues, consider this. We all know that Pat Robertson and the Christian Coalition are part of the "Christian Right." But is Jesse Jackson or the National Council of Churches ever described as the "Christian Left?" The public school abuse scandal issue is more of the same. Abuse and harassment is a problem - period. But when some abusers become "more equal" than others, the injustice multiplies. Because square facts don't fit the round holes that the agenda-drivers have, there will be barely a ripple on the water. |W|P|108903704475428212|W|P|Pedophilia in the False Priesthood|W|P|7/04/2004 11:46:00 PM|W|P|SDG|W|P|Disgusting. Only al-Reuters could celebrate America's independence with a bizarre swat on the over-beaten horse-carcas of Abu Ghraib, Iraqi Prisoner Abuses Revive Nightmares for German POWs." Those poor little Nazis had it so rough. And oh heavens, those poor little terrorists too. Two words for them: tough teabags. Reuters, as you may know, won't use the word "terrorist" as they maintain journalistic independence requires them to avoid such perjoritive terms. After all, "one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter." But articles such as this make it clear that independence has nothing to do with it. From now on, we'll follow Best of the Web's practice of calling al-Reuters a "news" service. After all, one man's news is just another's propaganda. |W|P|108900009967932116|W|P|The al-Reuters "News" Service|W|P|