At “Minding the Campus,” there’s an essay by ME that touches on the implicit similarities between our technocratic administrative class and our post-modern radical professoriate.  For all their differences they are in fervent agreement that what is most to be avoided is a form of higher education that stresses limits, constraint and character – but, rather, emphasizes liberation, infinite opportunity and the individual self-creation.   At a time when it’s clear that this economic and societal crisis was precipitated to a great extent by the unrestrained ambitions of the elite university-educated class, there should be far more extensive questioning about the sorts of things our educated elite are being taught, the lessons they are absorbing.  The deafening silence about this issue on our campuses – purportedly where “critical thinking” is supposed to be taught – reveals the truest and deepest orthodoxies of our age.

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture


  1. That essay wasn’t a “home run” — it was a “grand slam.” I read a blog post somewhere, written by a relatively recent graduate of a prestigious university wherein he recalled sitting around with his friends in college and saying that they had already done the hardest thing they will ever do: gaining addition to that university.

    I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or scream. Not only was their expensive “education” not shaping their souls, it had positively annihilated them.

    I’ve often told my conservative friends that the problem isn’t all those degrees in Women’s or Latino studies — it’s the degrees in business and finance. Not because there’s anything per se wrong with business or finance but because these degrees embody the idea of college as preparation for the job market.

    We see this idea at work whenever we read about “education reform.” The appeal is made on the basis of “competitiveness.” The fact that the global marketplace, if it can be spoken of that way, has a decided preference for workers educated enough to perform their assigned task but not so educated as to demand being treated with respect, seems to escape the would-be “reformers.”

  2. Ahhhh yes, to be raised by teachers in Barney Suits telling you how wonderful you are and how many horizons are verily open to you as long as you check the boxes correctly and keep within the authorized norm ….and then, after dropping a cool quarter million on a college degree only to be pitched out into a service economy which has replaced the “Think” sign of the charming early IBM years with a big flashing billboard that reminds you with every action that “YOU CAN BE REPLACED” …well, no wonder schizophrenia and hyperactivity has gotten a little out of hand in the old Skinner Box.

  3. I second Roberto — a brilliant article.

    Contra “conservatives”, the biggest problem in modern education lies at least as much with the administration, human resources department, and admissions (i.e., marketing) as it does with freaky-deaky devotees of Eurotrash deconstructionist theory.

    As someone who makes a living teaching a zillion courses as an adjunct at a “Catholic” liberal arts institution and a local community college, I can attest to the dysfunctionality in spades.

    At times the Orwellian quality is positively surreal — that is, at times I worry about being “outed” because I have no idea what I’m even supposed to PRETEND to be doing. It’s obvious that neither the students nor the administration give a rat’s ass about liberal education, and yet side-by-side with this there’s piles of propaganda about the value of humanities, philosophy, cultivating-one’s-mind, blah-blah-blah…. double-think is an understatement.

  4. Roberto is right about Jewish Tranny Whale Studies majors: they aren’t the problem; but rather the coarse instrumentalism (a form of prostitution really) of students in nearly all disciplines, but esp. those like Business Admin, and (mea culpa) engineering, which are principally vocational and no part anyway of a traditional liberal education.

    And speaking of unholy alliances… I’m wondering specifically whether there isn’t something even more sinister going on behind the rat race for credentials: that the US University system is really just the IQ test that US corporations cannot, by law, give to prospective employees. (And, of course, if it is, then, aside from the despicability of the deception, can you really blame folks for attempting to game it?)

    One reason I ask, and the question is by no means original with me, is that it is relatively well-known (if we admit the impropriety and vulgarity of the notion without necessarily condoning it) that nothing you “learn” in college has any “use” in the “real world”, i.e., the world of corporate cublicle dwellers. And this is largely true even in the more “vocational” areas of study, like engineering, in which I (mea culpa) have an advanced degree.

    Very little I learned, even in grad school, was immediately useful to me in the profession. And that portion which was immediately useful only existed because the graduate research group in which I was fortunate enough to study had utterly and successfully prostrated itself before the private corporate sector which it fed (graduates). In reality, 6 years could have been crammed into 2 (some complicated math, a bit about radio waves, and a bit of computer programming). I could have then taken some IQ test instead of, say, the GRE (or even the GRE itself, for it is nothing but an IQ test), and, cutting out the middle man, my company could easily have hired me 4 years earlier (having roughly equal confidence in my aptitudes and trainability), with little or no impact on my usefulness to them. (Which for the first year or two isn’t much even among the best and brightest.)

    Which brings me to the middle man and his prices: Isn’t the cost of University education rising because (and only because) governments (federal and state) are throwing more money at it?

    All that said, and as a parent of 8, the eldest nearly 18, I’m torn between the ideal: true liberal education, which can be had by, and richly benefit, the dedicated student but often at a very high cost; and the deformation: vocational training, which, while having no business masquerading as liberal education, in sheer economic terms, is the better value. (A cost-benefit analysis I might not be forced to make, however, if college wasn’t so damn expensive!)

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