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J.A.A. Purves

What is 21st Century Education?

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NBooth wrote:
: It's Adult Swim, with all that entails.

 

Like the vocal fry used by the first talking head? (One of the guys later on flirts with it a bit, but not like that first woman.)

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NBooth   

PSMag: What If Education Reform Got It All Wrong in the First Place?

 

[W]hat if it turned out that education reform, with its teacher-blaming assumptions, got it all wrong in the first place? That’s the conclusion being drawn by a growing number of researchers who, armed with a mountain of fresh evidence, argue that 30 years of test scores have not measured a decline in America’s public schools, but are rather a metric of the country’s child poverty—the worst among developed nations—and the broadening divide of income inequality.

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NBooth   

Harking back to our earlier posts on trigger warnings, here's “A Rather Pathetic Play”: On Public Shaming and the Cult of Censorship by Stuart Whatley:

 

This problem — the absence of “imaginative sympathy” in discourse — has plagued democracy from day one. For his part, this is precisely what John Stuart Mill admonished in On Liberty 150 years ago. Beyond the “State,” an even more pervasive foe of speech in democracies is “Society,” or any subset thereof who might, rather than try to convince a speaker to change his views, “[visit] him with any evil in case he do otherwise.” Which is to say, he believed it is incumbent upon all citizens to tolerate all speech as if it could be one’s own, rather than use ex ante methods to mute it, or ex post measures to punish it. This extends beyond situations of “willful misunderstanding.” Even if one understands the substance or intent of speech all too well, it is a descent into Philistinism to accord anything but the utmost tolerance to it all. As Wilde has it, “Whatever happens to another happens to oneself.”

 

 

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Joel   

Here's a very thoughtful and interesting essay on curriculum reform in (Catholic) universities -- mostly about "goal-based" vs. discipline-based education -- really worth a read for anyone working in higher ed. One meaty excerpt:

 

 

To a certain degree, goal-based education makes sense for schoolkids. One must learn grammar and arithmetic. The young mind should be well-stocked with information. We need background knowledge to enter into more sophisticated courses at the university level. There’s even merit in a certain amount of propaganda that establishes a baseline social consensus. Although I might argue many particulars, I’m not opposed to the ambition that many Catholic universities have to encourage certain attitudes in their students. But we need to be honest about the intellectual costs, especially if we’re in the business of curriculum reform at a place like Notre Dame. It is in high school that my students first encounter amalgam courses, whose goals are to inculcate right-mindedness. One of the features that makes university work different from high school work is that goal-based propaganda gives way to the ­discipline-based pursuit of difficult and mysterious truths.

 

 

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NBooth   

At The AtlanticThe Tyranny of the College Major

The American bachelor's degree has over the last 150 years become centered on specializations, majors, each student's home department.  General Education, the classes each student must take outside of the major, is still part of every degree—but it has become weaker and unfocused, disrespected and eroded.  The degree has not gotten tougher as the world has gotten tougher. Instead, legislators and administrators have simplified the degree into lists of outcomes, efficiency initiatives, graduation targets, and courses that can double count for more than one requirement.

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Joel   

Hoo boy. Dear Parents: Everything You Need to Know About Your Son and Daughter’s University But Don’t by Ron Srigley in the LARB:

Quote

... I’ll make a deal with you: I’ll have the courage possibly not to be able to pay my mortgage if you’ll have the courage to listen to my story and then to insist, loudly and clearly to those in power, that you are no longer willing to put up with their technological gimmicks and empty rhetoric about “student-centered learning” and insist instead that your children actually learn something and have their intelligence cultivated and refined by attending the institutions over which they preside. The gimmicks look good, like a nice, new shiny car. But they are still gimmicks. And the fact that universities, in the interest of increasing enrollments (= money), are willing to flatter you and your children so shamelessly about how wonderful and intelligent you all are should tell you that you are being played. This isn’t even political correctness and the therapeutic culture anymore; this is a straight-out scam. That fact that anyone falls for it is evidence of precisely the types of decline in higher education that I wish to discuss.

 

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NBooth   

Do American Universities Discriminate Against Conservatives?

The headline is wretched, and the lead-in is typical Atlantic hyperbole, but the actual interview here is fascinating and well worth reading:

 

Quote

Political bias is much deeper and harder to root out of any institution. I think it’s partially because political bias is not an irrational prejudice. It also expresses an intellectual orientation. People find different kinds of questions interesting and certain interpretations more plausible than others. It’s not going to go away. That’s why you need a range of [professors’ beliefs] so that they can check one another.

But on the other hand, the populist right does tend to overstate the bias [against conservative professors] that does exist. Conservatives can succeed and make it in the university. There are things like tenure, which are very important and protect academic freedom.

To re-post what I said on Facebook, I'm actually uncomfortable lately with applying "liberal" and "conservative" in their current American-politics forms to academic work. I mean, if to be "conservative" is to have a reverence for the past, to take it seriously and to try to understand and preserve what it offers, then what academic in the humanities *isn't* conservative? Even the most radically revisionist, destroy-the-canon leftist is doing the work because they believe the past *matters,* that history *matters,* and that, therefore, it's important to get it *right*.

Put another way--it's a mistake to think that "liberal" and "conservative," academically speaking, are antithetical to each other. If a conservative is really serious about retaining the wisdom of the past, then they must take into account all the wisdom of the past including the wisdom of leftists. Similarly, if a liberal is serious about moving beyond the mistakes of the past, then they must move beyond all the mistakes of the past including the mistakes of leftists. And you can reverse that, too, because in spite of some rhetorical posturing about liberals not valuing the past, the very basis of liberal revisionism is the idea that the past matters.

Edited by NBooth

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NBooth   

Poet: I can’t answer questions on Texas standardized tests about my own poems

Lots right and lots wrong with this piece. The wrong: the overwhelming assumption, made explicit in the last paragraph, that in order to determine intent we must or should ask the author--which is nonsense for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that if the author can't make intent explicit or at least discoverable in the work itself then they have failed.

The right: standardized test questions for literature are very silly.

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Joel   

All right, homies; I'm back, I have a PhD in education, I work in an education department, and my own kid is in school now. I'm starting to have Opinions About Things a bit.

I've delved a little into some educational thinking outside my area and came across this piece by David Jardine. (I have a piece coming out in the collection this will appear in; my piece is co-written with an Iranian-Canadian colleague, and it's about religious education in a secular setting.) I liked this quote below:

 

Listen: "To know the world we have to love it." (Wendell Berry)
 If I can? When I'm able? Should the circumstances allow? If I have the time? The permission? The funding? The right school? The right kids? No. Love is not an outcome of the right circumstances but a cause of right circumstance.

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