Posts Tagged ‘college students’

College students who can’t write correct English

November 18, 2015

Alex Small, a physics professor, is frustrated with white, middle-class college students who can’t write grammatically correct English.

I’m in a dark mood from grading.  If I have to constantly correct errors of subject-verb agreement in papers written by native English speakers from the majority ethnic/racial group, then higher education is pretty much doomed. I’m emphasizing their ethnic majority status because we can’t blame this on some sort of disadvantage.  [snip]

Alex Small

Alex Small

The dominant group will periodically allow some sort of largess by which “those people” get their “special program” and if they still don’t succeed then the dominant group can write them off with a clear conscience.  And if they do succeed, the dominant group can put an asterisk on their success, because they obviously only got there thanks to the “special program” (an asterisk that will make some seethe with resentment while others pat themselves on the back).

However, the dominant group will never tolerate their own kids being treated with benevolent condescension.  Good middle-class kids from the dominant group can’t possibly be failing, because their kids are (by definition) the measure of success for the mainstream.  Their kids will get degrees.  Period.

Source: Physicist at Large

I usually dislike the term “white privilege” because it implies people getting something they shouldn’t have.  Not being scared when you’re stopped by police isn’t a privilege.  It’s how everybody should be able to feel.

But the term does apply here, although maybe “upper middle-class suburban privilege” might be more exact.


Higher education’s cult of leadership

August 24, 2015

American higher education has been taken over by “neo-liberalism,” which is the idea that all institutions in society should pattern themselves on profit-seeking corporations and serve the interests of business.

So argues Willliam Deresiewicz, in a good article in the current issue of Harper’s magazine.  The old idea of higher education was to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, he wrote; these have been pushed aside by corporate buzzwords.   As an example, he cited a liberal arts college’s mission statement – leadership, service, integrity, creativity.

He said integrity nowadays means nothing more than “not cheating”.   As for the rest—

HarpersWeb-2015-09-cover-302x410So what’s so bad about leadership, service, and creativity?  What’s bad about them is that, as they’re understood on campus and beyond, they are all encased in neo-liberal assumptions.  Neo-liberalism, which dovetails perfectly with meritocracy, has generated a caste system: “winners and losers,” “makers and takers,” “the best and the brightest,” the whole gospel of Ayn Rand and her Übermenschen.   That’s what “leadership” is finally about.  There are leaders, and then there is everyone else: the led, presumably — the followers, the little people.  Leaders get things done; leaders take command.  When colleges promise to make their students leaders, they’re telling them they’re going to be in charge.