The absurd assumption underlying publish-or-perish in higher education

That when a man writes a scholarly book that reaches a dozen specialists he adds immeasurably to the world’s knowledge; whereas if he imparts his thoughts and his reading to one hundred and fifty students every year, he is wasting his time and leaving the world in darkness.

One is tempted to ask what blinkered pedant ever launched the notion that students in coming to college secede from the human race and may therefore be safely left out when knowledge is being broadcast.

Jacques Barzun, Teacher in America. Boston: Little, Brown, 1945 – via Orange Crate Art.

Decline of ‘Western Civ’ in the undergrad? No problem, the MBA will take care of that

Survey courses in “Western Civilization,” once a common component of undergraduate curricula, have almost disappeared as a requirement at many large private research universities and public flagships, according to a study by the National Association of Scholars.

The report finds that, since 1968, the number of the selected colleges that require Western Civilization courses as a component of general education curricula and U.S. history as a component of history majors has dropped. ( via Inside Higher Ed)

Meanwhile,

the Dean of a well-ranked business school is proud to announce that his graduate studies contains a combination of character-building (often discussed as an outcome in high school)  and the humanities (often perceived to be the overall outcome of undergraduate education).

Go figure.

From janitor to Ivy-League graduate

He’s a 52-year-old refugee who emigrated from a war-torn former Yugoslavia to work as a janitor at one of America’s premiere universities.

It took Gac Filipaj seven years to learn English and gain acceptance into Columbia University, where he received free tuition because he’s an employee. He took classes in the morning, then worked 2:30-to-11 p.m as a “heavy cleaner,” and when he got home after midnight he would hit the books.

After 12-years of study, he received a bachelor’s in classics and he graduated with honors. (via)

Congratulations, Gac!

Silicon Valley parents send their children to a school that does NOT use computers

via NYTimes.com:

The chief technology officer of eBay sends his children to a nine-classroom school here. So do employees of Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, Yahoo and Hewlett-Packard.

But the school’s chief teaching tools are anything but high-tech: pens and paper, knitting needles and, occasionally, mud. Not a computer to be found. No screens at all. They are not allowed in the classroom, and the school even frowns on their use at home.

Schools nationwide have rushed to supply their classrooms with computers, and many policy makers say it is foolish to do otherwise. But the contrarian point of view can be found at the epicenter of the tech economy, where some parents and educators have a message: computers and schools don’t mix.

Six words that changed a life

After procrastinating till the night before it was due, I wrote a paper about the play — the first paper I typed on a typewriter — and turned it in the next day.

I got a good grade on it, and below the grade Mr. Criche wrote, “Sure hope you become a writer.” That was it. Just those six words, written in his signature handwriting — a bit shaky, but with a very steady baseline.

It was the first time he or anyone had indicated in any way that writing was a career option for me. Wed never had any writers in our family line, and we didnt know any writers personally, even distantly, so writing for a living didnt seem something available to me. But then, just like that, it was as if hed ripped off the ceiling and shown me the sky.

via Remembering an inspiring teacher.