Pennsylvania College of  Technology
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Dr. Ed Vavra, 
Assoc. Prof. of Rhetoric
Bibliographies Section

Education and Educational Psychology

Notes & Quotes

     This page primarily contains short quotations which I can cut and paste into reviews, etc., as needed, but it should also further suggest some of the ideas of the writers.

Barzun, Jacques.  Begin Here: The Forgotten Conditions of Teaching and Learning. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991. [This is a collection of essays and speeches.]

"The present shortage of teachers, which has brought about the admission of college graduiates without indoctrination in "methods," is an opportunity not to be missed. (5)

[Educators often blame television for their students' short attention spans. But in "Television and the Child -- But Not What You Think," Barzun blames the short sound bites of television on our educational system:]
"I would venture the paradox that our jittery television is as it is because of influence from the schools.
     This influence has been both direct and indirect. The direct influence is that the men and women who work in television are products of the schools and what they produce shows how their minds work. The indirect influence is that of the audience. They too have come out of the common school, and if they get bored regularly at 17 1/2 seconds, they are no doubt reproducing the character of their schooling.
     What entitles me to say this? Simply that during the last 50 years, nearly everything done in school has tended toward the discontinuous, the incoherent, the jiggly." (41-42)
[Barzun develops this idea in a fascinating way, but one implication that he does not develop is that, when teachers attempt to interest students by playing to their short attention spans, the teachers only compound the problem.]

"The school has not taught how to learn; now it wants to climb that Mt. Everest of intellect, critical thought. Critical thinking can only be learned by the discussion of an idea which is part of a subject, under the guidance of an able thinker. Thinking is like piano-playing; it is shown, not taught." (46)

     "The head of the National Education Association, true to its baneful tradition, has said that 'teachers must be social workers, psychologists, priests' -- three professions for the price of one, and without benefit of seminary or graduate training. It would be seen as quackery if the stubborn will of the educationists and the foolish hope of the public had not accustomed everybody to the imposture." (50)

"Self-esteem comes from work done, from new power over difficulty, which in school means knowing more and more and coping easily with serious tasks. Boredom disappears with progress, with perceived advance toward completion and mastery." (51)

[on teaching math, but equally applicable to grammar:]
"To begin with, no school subject should be treated like a bitter pill that will go down only if sugar-coated. The merest hind of this confirms the pupil's belief that he faces something dreadful and is a victim." (81)

[In an essay titled 'The Urge to Be Pre-Posterous,' Barzun expands on the concept of preposterism, which he explains elsewhere. Preposterism is, as Barzun puts it, putting "the cart before the horse." (83) Preposterism is, in effect, an educational reform which puts the end at the beginning. It attempts to teach the child, beginning in kindergaten, EVERYTHING that an adult knows about a subject. The following comments are primarily about new math, but they touch on linguistics and the teaching of grammar. I have quoted at some length because what he says is very relevant to many attempts to reform the teaching of grammar.]
     "From seeing that the teaching of arithmetic could be made more interesting and challenging by a dose of imagination and reasoning, the makers of the new program concluded  that teaching calculation was trivial and must be replaced by 'conceptual work.' They taught 'Commutativity' and 'Associativity' as part of addition and multiplication and went on to prescribe difficult feats of a kind that belongs to pure mathematics, has no daily utility, and my even undermine it. . . . .
     This demand was only one among others of the same kind: number theory, sets, relations, probability, and other delightful aspects of numeration were drawn on to flex the muscles of beginners. The group planning new math at MIT was having a good time, because these large subjects naturally interest them, whereas multiplying fractions and extracting square roots are dull and can be left to hand calculators. How to cut up the new complexities for child consumption was the attractive task. It was as good as a game. If the game succeeded, it would be a great leap in school performance, visibly due to the intervention of high professionals in the lower-school curriculum.
     That feeling was natural enough; it is the flow of ostentation that Quintilian noted a while ago. But there are other motives behind the modern desire to 'begin where the teaching should end.' One is the fear of being incomplete and inaccurate -- too far behind [84] the point that 'the profession' has reached. In short, it springs from a misplaced regard for scholarship.
     How else explain some of the grammars handed to youngsters of 12 to 16? They are books of four to five hundred pages, filled with terms special to themselves and illlustrated with quasi algebraic formulas. They propound in practice one of the competing doctrines of modern linguistics--structuralist, transformatiionist or other. They shun the use of such words as noun, object, preposition, which might enable the students to understand what most people continue to say when dealing with sentences. For those words are 'inexact' and 'unscientific.' The advance of linguistic theory after Henry Sweet, Saussure, and Jespersen has made them obsolete.
     With this attitude goes the abandonment of two related ideas that up to now have never been absent from the theory of education. One is the notion of rudiments. . . . . 'Rudiments' comes from the root for 'tear apart.' They are the portions of a subject torn apart from the rest to serve as points of entry into the field. . . . Thus the letters of the alphabet are torn from the word and sounded to show the child how to read and spell. Likewise, the so-called parts of speech are convenient groupings to display the elements of a sentence.
     What bothers the superstitious modern mind is that these and other rudiments falsify -- and they are not the whole story. Just think: using the alphabet by itself in phonics is a fraud; the same letters do not always mean the same sound; and the parts of speech similarly overlap and fail to explain everything that goes on in human discourse. Poor children, who from the word go (literally) are misled! The fact that phonics teaches them how to read and old-fashioned grammar helps them to write acceptably seems a crude kind of success compared to the righteousness of total disclosure of what's what from the start -- as if there would never be another chance to modify and expand knowledge later on. It is this compulsive scientism that makes for the nationwide failure to teach the so-called basics -- the all-important rudiments -- from the kindergarten onward. (84-85)

[opposes multiple-choice tests (89)]
"They are a piece of subtle deception practiced on minds that have just begun to acquire the outlines of a subject."
[He fails to note that some of those minds do very well on them, thereby demonstrating both a good storehouse of knowledge and sophisticated understanding of that "subtle deception."]

[on teacher training:]
"Up to now teacher training has been done by people unfitted for the job, by temperament and by purpose. By temperament they have no interest in Learning or capacity for it; by purpose they are bent not on instruction but on social work. They care little about history or science or good English, but they grow keen about any scheme of betterment; one recent proposal is: teach the importance of washing the hands." (96)

"It would be wrong to say that the young recruits are brainwashed -- they are brainsoiled. No doubt strong minds escape the blight, but they must go on to do their good teaching despite the creed and its oppressive atmosphere." (98)

     "The current obscurantism which attacks the Western tradition with the zeal of censorship, comes not from those supposedly unrepresented in the curriculum, but from academics and other intellectuals who are represented and hate their own heritage." (129)

Damerell, Reginald G. Education's Smoking Gun: How Teachers Colleges Have Destroyed Education in America. NY: Freundlich Books, 1985.  [Educationists will hate this one, but it should be of great interest to thoughtful teachers and members School Boards.]
"Empty credentials are all that any school or department of education in any university in the United States gives to its graduates. The education field is devoid of intellectual content, has no body of knowledge of its own and acts as if bodies of knowledge do not exist in other university departments." (13)

"The third historical fact that invalidates blaming the culture is that educationists have actively promoted the decline in the 3Rs. They have aggressively attacked them. They have trained teachers-to-be as attackers and dispersed them to schools throughout the United States." (34)

"Decades of outright attacks on the 3Rs by educationists have affected and continue to affect all public school teachers, including many who know better. Most affected are the teachers in the nation's 62,000 public elementary schools. They were the education majors. Little difference did it make that not all of their education professors shared the views of the attackers of literacy and numeracy. But those professors kept silent. By keeping silent they contributed to the diminished importance of the 3Rs." (77)

     "Parents whose children attend reputedly good schools believe that the instruction in them is superior. . . . They make the same mistake as parents in similar districts all over the nation. They credit the school with what they should chiefly credit to themselves." (78-79)

     "I first learned of Frank Smith's work from one of my best graduate students, who was taking a course in the school's reading program. Its two faculty members were admirers and users of his Understanding Reading. A year or so later, however, when I inquired if it was still in use, the answer was  "No, students find it too difficult." Evidence that education majors in other schools of education also found it too difficult came in 1978 with the publication of Smith's Reading Without Nonsense. It was essentially the same as Understanding Reading, rewritten in simplified form in an attempt to make the same material understandable to education majors. With "nonsense" in the title, by implication polemical, it had more appeal for them. Then, too, everything about the book's appearance made it look easier to read. The type was larger and more widely spaced; the number of lines on the page were fewer, notes eliminated, and the bulk of the book far less. This simplified version for teachers in training is, appropriately, published by Teachers College Press. (95-96)

"In what must be the understatement of the twentieth century, Nichols Murray Butler, president of Columbia University, said that educationist literature 'is not nutritious as a steady diet.' Most of it reads like editorials on the side of good against evil--the evil usually being something called 'traditional.'" (104)

"Having attended public schools for twelve or more years, future teachers--unlike future engineers, police officers, and business people--have a firsthand knowledge of their field before they enter it. Consciously or unconsciously, they know it discourages criticism, and hence thinking." (127)

"The students in my Media Teaching Tools course could tell that I had no dislike of equipment per se. They saw me use the overhead projector and the videotape player and monitor. But I used them in a noneducationist way. They became invisible when I used them, as invisible as the blackboard on which there are words and numbers written. We attend  not to blackboards but to the meanings on them. Educationists reverse this. They attend to blackboards." (144)

Chapter 12, "Education's Big Guns Asmoking," (219-261) is a persuasive critique of numerous books and organizations that defend schools of education and our current educational system. It ends with a critique of almost all "College and University Professors":
"... most college professors are intent on their own privileges and comforts. They cannot be expected to fight for public school or university reforms. Reforms will have to be imposed from outside their ranks." (261)

     "But schools of education, once having been brought into being, had a vested interest in surviving and expanding. They justified themselves by belittling all past teaching in substance and method. They attacked, out of self-interest, everything traditional. Some education professors aggressively attacked literacy, and all other education professors, by their silence, countenanced the attacks. . . . Schools of education subversively increased their hold on public education decade by decade for almost a hundred years to bring us to 'the near nihilism of the present.' Because they are dangerous to the social fabric of the nation, schools of education must be destroyed, must be abolished. The enormous sums of money spent to maintain them should be redistributed to local school systems so that they can begin the repair of nearly a hundred years of damage to them." (268)

    "To eliminate schools and departments of education from colleges and universities, each state legislature must change state requirements--eliminate all education courses for teachers and every rank of administrator from assistant principal to state education commissioner. The state legislature can set new requirements, such as a B.A. degree in the liberal arts with a concentration in English and history, particularly American history. Secondary teachers should be required to have an adequate number of courses in the subjects they teach." (270)

Gross, Martin L. The Conspiracy of Ignorance: The Failure of American Public Schools. NY: HarperCollins, 1999.
This book is a "must read." It is full of specific examples such as the following:
     "A suburban father who happened to be an engineer and quite proficient in math was pleased when his daughter received an A in algebra. One day he went over her homework with her and found, to his surprise, that she couldn't do simple algebraic equations. After much delay, he finally got an appointment to see her math teacher. He explained that his daughter didn't deserve the A since she didn't seem to understand algebra. The annoyed teacher responded by saying that educators now had different criteria for assessing students from when he went to school. The frustrated father, whose daughter was a victim of grade inflation, did the only thing he could under the circumstances. He took his daughter out of public school and sent her to a private one." (27)
[Unfortunately, poor vicitms of the system don't have the option.  Unless we take back our schools from the educationists, we will no longer be able to consider this as a country of equal opportunity.]

[Having discussed the success of P.S. 161 in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, an  almost totally minority school, but one that uses a very traditional curriculum and approach, Gross concludes:]
     "Rather, it appears that the failure of minority student performance is closely related to the poverty of performance by the Education Establishment, its theories, its administrators, and its teachers." (38)

"The U.S. Department of Education confirms the Pennsylvania study: 'Too many teachers are being drawn from the bottom quarter and third of the graduating high school and college students.'" (43)

"we must completely eliminate undergraduate teacher training, which now makes it possible for highly impressionable and not highly competent high school students to enter immediately into schools of education." (68)

     "Since we cannot rely on the status quo or the falsely innovative Establishment to improve the curriculum, change must come -- as in California -- from state legislators pressured by a concerned public. Unfortunately, the public at large is not yet sufficiently informed or mobilized to call for overall change. When it becomes increasingly angered at the ignornace and anti-intellectualism in our schools, that will happen." (127)

     "Across the board, the more homework given and completed, the higher the NAEP test scores, which proves the strong correlation between homework and performance. Among high school seniors, the average NAEP reading score for those who did no homework was 273. For those who did less than an hour, it was 299, some 15 points higher. And for those who did one to two hours of homework, the average score rose to 295. The score escalated even higher, to 307, for students who did more than two hours of homework a night. A nose in the textbook--at home--is obviously the route to school success." (197)

[In an excellent chapter on "The Teachers' Unions":]
     "The teachers' unions have fought, and are still fighting, every attempt to raise standards in their profession." (212)
"Of the 150,000 new teachers each year, it is no exaggeration to estimate that at least 50,000, and probably more, are academically inadequate." (220)

"Perhaps the most revealing aspect of the GRE score is that those who intend to take a master's degree in school administration--the pool from which principals and superintendents are eventually drawn--score near the nadir. Not only do they score much lower than high school teachers, but even lower than elementary classroom teachers, by over 50 points." (229) [Elsewhere, Grossman shows that teachers in general, i.e., students who choose to go into education, score significantly lower than the general college population. Thus, superintendents and other school administrators are the lowest of the low.]

[The concluding chapter presents nineteen excellent, specific suggestions for improving our schools.]

Hirsch, E.D. Jr. The Schools We Need and Why We Don't Have Them. NY: Doubleday, 1996.
"Many states and local districts have produced thick documents called 'curriculm guides,' which, for all their thickness, do not answer the simple question 'What specific content are all children at a grade level required to learn?'" (27)

"Nowhere is this unhelpful vagueness more apparent than in language arts curricula throughout the United States. While the specificity of some district curricula in science and social studies may be admirable in places, the same cannot be said for any  local language arts framework I know of." (31-32)

"One cannot  'learn to learn' without having learned to understand what one is being taught." (144-5)

"Memory studies suggest that the best approach to achieving retention in long-term memory is 'distributed practice.' Ideally, lessons should spread a topic over several days, with repetitions occurring at moderately distant intervals. Thus Bahrick:
Students learned and relearned 50 English-Spanish word pairs seven times to the same criterion. They were tested for recall and recognition 8 years later. The original relearning sessions were spaced either at 30-day intervals, at 1-day intervals, or all on the same day. Eight years later, participants who were trained at 30-day intervals recalled about twice as many words as those trained at 1-day intervals, and both of these groups retained more than the subjects who were trained and retrained on the same day. "(165)

     "The very thing which Horace Mann called upon teacher-training schools to do and which the American public assumes that such schools are doing -- the teaching of effective pedagogy -- is a domain of training that, according to both sympathetic and unsympathetic observers, gets short shrift in our education schools. ... Instead, it is mainly theory, and highly questionable theory at that, which gets more attention  in education-school courses. That point should be stated even more strongly: not only do our teacher-training schools decline to put a premium on nuts-and-bolts classroom effectiveness, but they promote ideas that actually run counter to consensus research into teacher effectiveness." (172)

     "The more general idea that the form of multiple-choice tests imposes superficiality, rote memorization, and  fragmentation upon students and teachers is an exemplary case of judging a book by its cover." (191)

Kramer, Rita. Ed School Follies: The Miseducation of America's Teachers. Free Press, 1991. [R, N7. Kramer simply presents descriptions of various schools of education which she visited across the country. In the process, she docuiments how "education" is the lowest priority of such schools.]
     "In order to create a more just society, future teachers are being told, they must focus on the handicapped of all kinds -- those who have the greatest difficulties in learning, whether because of physical problems or emotional ones, congenital conditions or those caused by lack of stimulation in the family or lack of structure in the home -- in order to have everyone come out equal in the end. What matters is not to teach any particular subject or skill, not to preserve past accomplishments or stimulate future achievements, but to give to all that stamp of approval that will make them 'feel good about themselves.' Self-esteem has replaced understanding as the goal of education." (210)

"No one in the ed school universe dares publicly to advocate a curriculum that resists the 'cooperative learning,' the 'multicultural' and 'global' approach that is often a thinly disguised rejection of individualistic democratic values and institutions and of the very idea that underneath all our variety of backgrounds we Americans have been and should continue to become one nation, one culture. That aim and, in fact, any knowledge or appreciation of that common culture and the institutions from which it derives, I found to be conspicuously absent in the places that prepare men and women to teach in our country's public schools today." (211)

     "At present, our teacher-training institutions, the schools, colleges, and departments of education on campuses across the country, are producing for the classrooms of America experts in methods of teaching with nothing to apply those methods to. Their technique is abundant, their knowledge practically nonexistent." (212)

"At the present time, knowledge -- real knowledge in the form of facts, not 'thinking skills' or feelings of self-worth -- is about the least concern of the professional education industry. It despises 'mere facts,' chronology, traditions, rules, memorization, practice -- all of which are dirty words in education today. It prizes 'cognitive skills,' self-determination, creative thinking. As though anything really creative could go on in an empty head." (218)

     "Those who call for higher standards are accused of being discriminatory -- elitist, if not racist. Of course, standards imply having to meet them, and some will do so while others will not. As long as success or failure depends on effort and achievement and no one is excluded from the chance to make that effort and achieve the best results of which he is capable, the criticisms are misleading. The real racists are those who assume members of minority groups are not capable of the same effort and achievement as anyone else, that they need different rules. So convinced are they that members of minorioty groups will fail that they are prepared to change the rules for everyone to ensure the same outcome for everyone. It is a low outcome, and it demeans the minorities, the rest of society, and the very idea of education, which if it means anything means possessing knowledge." (219)

Palmer, Parker J. The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 1998. [R, N7 -- Palmer thinks feels very highly of himself. Although he has a chapter (V) on "Subject-Centered Education," he doesn't seem to realize that "teach" is a transitive verb. He is repeatedly derisive of "facts" and "competition," but makes no distinction between educational fundamentals (math and reading), and higher level instruction in such things as philosophy and sociology. The book appears to be the result of Palmer's own fear, to which he devotes an entire chapter (II), and which, in typical Romantic fashion, he parades as a virtue. Those who can, do; those who can't, teach; and those who are totally incompetent -- teach teachers? There are a couple interesting ideas in the book, and his argument that there should be more discussion of teaching among teachers is certainly valid, but this book as a whole in incredibly thin.]
     "As a young teacher, I yearned for the day when I would know my craft so well, be so competent, so experienced, and so powerful, that I could walk into any classroom without feeling afraid." (57)

"I offer students the chance to rewrite a term paper as often as they like before the course ends. I grade each version, commenting on its strengths and weaknesses. When I give a final grade, it is not an average but the  grade given for the last version. In this way, I hope to show students that the intent of evaluation is to offer guidelines for learning rather than terminal judgments." (138) [Is he at all aware of the complexities and implications of grading papers in this way?]

Sowell, Thomas. Inside American Education: The Decline, the Deception, the Dogmas. NY: Free Press, 1993
"States that spend more per pupil in the public schools do not generally have any better educational performance to show for it." (11)

"The extremes to which job security for the individual and job barriers for the profession are carried suggests a desperate need to avoid competition. This fear of competition is by no means paranoid. It is very solidly based on the low levels of substantive intellectual ability among public school teachers and administrators, and among the professors of education who taught them." (23)

[Pages 24 & 25 include a lengthy discussion of test scores of education majors. The discussion probably explains why so many teachers are opposed to such tests. It also suggests why those teachers complaints should be ignored. For example:]

     "In 1980-81, students majoring in education scored lower on both verbal and quantitative SATs than students majoring in art, music, theatre, the behavioral sciences, physical sciences, or biological sciences, business or commerce, engineering, mathematics, the humanities, or health occupations. Undergraduate business and commercial majors have long been regarded as being low quality, but they still edged out education majors on both parts of the SAT. Engineering students tend to be lopsidedly better mathematically than verbally, but nevertheless their verbal scores exceeded those of education majors, just as art and theatre majors had higher mathematics scores than education majors. Not only have education students' test scores been low, they have also been declining over time. As of academic year 1972-73, the average verbal SAT score for high school students choosing education as their intended college major was 418 -- and by academic year 1979-80, this had declined to 389." (24-25)

     "Beginning the th 1960s, insistence on 'relevance' became widespread and the particular kind of 'relevance' being sought was typically a relevance judged in advance by students who had not yet learned the particular things being judged, much less applied them in practice in the real world. Relevance thus became a label for the general belief that the usefulness or meaningfulness of information or training could be determined a priori." (89) [He follow this with an excellent critique of the educationists' "relevance" argument.]

     "Outside the world of education, few would be confident, or even comfortable, claiming that it is a lack of self-esteem which leads to felonies or its presence which leads to Nobel Prizes. Yet American schools are permeated with the idea that self-esteem precedes performance, rather than vice-versa. The very idea that self-esteem is something earned, rather than being a pre-packaged handout from the school system, seems not to occur to many educators. Too often, American educators are like the Wizard of Oz, handing out substitutes for brains, bravery, or heart." (97)

[Pages 122-130 contain some excellent observations on colleges' admissions procedures and on standardized tests such as the SAT.]
"...every aspect of the argument that 'cultural bias' makes test scores invalid as predictors of minority student performance turns out to be false empiirically." (128)  [and]
     "Many people are uncomfortable with any conclusion that tests, on average, reveal differences in the current academic capabilities of different racial or ethnic groups, because this conclusion seems too close to the theory that some groups are innately and genetically inferior to others. But these are, in reality, very different arguments -- and the truth of one is perfectly consistent with the falseness of the other." (129)

[Chapter Ten includes excellent arguments against tenure. Chapter Eleven, "Bankruptcy," (285-303) is packed with excellent observations and suggestions.]

"The brutal reality is that the American system of education is bankrupt." (285)

     "The biggest liability of the American public school system is the legal requirement that education courses be taken by people who seek careers as tenured teachers. These courses are almost unanimously condemned -- by scholars who have studied them, teachers who have taken them, and anyone else with the misfortune to have encountered them. The crucial importance of these courses, and the irreparable damage they do, is not because of what they teach or do not teach. It is because they are the filter through which the flow of teachers must pass. Mediocrity and incompetence flow freely through these filters, but they filter out many high-ability people, who refuse to subject themselves to the inanity of education courses, which are the laughing stock of many universities. One of the great advantages of the private schools is that they do not have to rely on getting their teachers from such sources." (288-89) [This cannot be said often enough.]

Sykes, Charles J. Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why America's Children Feel Good About Themselves but Can't Read, Write, or Add. NY: St. Martin's Press, 1995. [R, N7 - a very important book for anyone concerned with the state of education]
Unlike the more established disciplines of higher education, the position of education has always been shaky. Its pretensions to scholarship are, at best, questionable, and it is the one field that other academics are unanimous in regarding with disdain. (83)

One study found that American business loses nearly $40 billion in revenue a year because of the low level of their employees' literacy and the added time required to train and retrain wokers for new technologies. (101)

The readers now used in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades are simpler than similar readers used in schools before World War II. "Even their sentences have been shortened -- 20 words per sentence before World War II, 14 words per sentence now," Hayes and Wolfer noted. (129)

     John Jacob Cannell was blunt about his credentials: "I am neither a professional educator or a testing expert. I am a physician." (143)
. . . 
     Given the high stakes, the pressures on schools to cheat on their testing [on the standardized tests taken by students, the results of which are reported to the public - EV] have proven irresistible to some. After Cannell published his study, he received letters from across the country detailing various testing ruses. "Some teachers openly admitted cheating," he wrote. "Others were concerned that if they didn't cheat, they would look bad compared to the teachers who did. All the teachers complained that cheating is encouraged by school administrators."
     Cannell, however, goes even further in his indictment. Educationists are quick to blame their own failures on social problems, but Cannell argues that the schools themselves may have to take some responsibility for those same maladies. "I am convinced," he wrote, "that the current American epidemic of teenage pregnancy, depression, drug use, delinquency, and teen suicide is partially related to the low standards and the low expectations so evident in America's public schools. School officials blame these problems on single parent families, parental apathy, and permissive child-rearing. Undoubtedly, many of these present day realities do detrimentally affect children, but so do present day school policies." (146) 
Sykes, Charles J.  A Nation of Victims: The Decay of the American Character. NY: St. Martin's Press, 1992.
     Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., is quite right when he says that the debate over multiculturalism and Afrocentrism in the academic curriculum is not primarily a pedagogical fight over reading lists, teaching styles, or even educational goals. "The debate about the curriculum," he observes, "is a debate about what it means to be an American." (250)
Sykes, Charles J.. ProfScam: Professors and the Demise of Higher Education. Washington, D.C. Regnery Gateway. 1988. [R, N7 - a very important book for anyone concerned with the state of higher education]
In a footnote, he quotes a memo to faculty members from Professor David Berkman, "a former chairman of a journalism department at an urban university":
     "[I]f we stress professional standards and if we demand quantities of work at which we, as students 20 years ago would never have blinked, and the result is that 40 percent of the initial enrollment drops the courses and we begin to hear how students are badmouthing us as sonofabitches, then it's only natural for us to begin to wonder if this is not a real reflection of something seriously deficient in us as teachers; and also to wonder, that as word of our reputation gets around, whether it won't raise as serious questions in the minds of our colleagues as well.
     "The result is that we pander.
     "We pander to the ignorance -- or more likely the fears -- of students who cannot and will not accept that as professional writers and speakers they will be expected to show professional competence in their writing and speaking . . . .
     "We pander to student laziness -- or to the past failures of colleagues to impose a challenging quantity of work -- so that we pull back the first time seniors scream incredulously about the 20-page term paper, and in the future avoid ever opening ourselves to this reaction again. . . . ."
     "And, perhaps worst of all, we pander to that high school-guidance-counselor-mentality with which so many of our students are imbued, which manifests itself as a demand that our judgments and our grading be grounded more in a superficial, psychotherapeutic support, than on the professionalism in which the instruction and the kind of program we offer should be based." (85-86)

     The research culture is founded on an almost religious faith in the search for new knowledge, and professors have a marked tendency to drift toward pietistic unctiousness in describing the importance of their work. In practice, however, a more apt parallel for the professors is with the alchemist, sorcerer, and witch doctor who relies on the power of obscure incantations, obfuscation, and the infinite capacity of mind-darkening jargon to intimidate and mystify the uninitiated. The professoriate's success with this sleight of hand is evident in its continuing dominance over higher education and its $120 billion wallet. (103)

Much of the push for dismantling the foundations of liberal education [the traditional canon of literary study] is based on political arguments: The traditional authors are too white, too male, too old, and too hard. (188 [My emphasis])

This border presents

Edouard Manet's
(French 1832-1883) 
Le Dejeuner sur L'Herbe
1863, Oil on canvas, Musee d'Orsay, Paris
Mark Harden's WWW Artchive

Click here for the directory of my backgrounds based on art.

[for educational use only]