Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

The Crux of the Matter

with 7 comments

So, a few people sent me this

this morning, and it’s not surprising, because I’m always interested in there is Gloom and Doom in American Higher Education.
And after that, I just feel stymied.  A man is coming out from New York tomorrow to interview me for a rather more important magazine than I’m usually in, and I’m having situational ADHD. 
Go gloom and doom.

Written by janeh

June 26th, 2014 at 8:09 am

Posted in Uncategorized

7 Responses to 'The Crux of the Matter'

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  1. Well, good luck with your interview anyway. Try, since IIRC you dont’ drink coffee, a couple of big mugs of tea.

    And a little chocolate can’t hurt.

  2. Wot Mike said, Jane, except I’d replace a little chocolate with a lot.


    26 Jun 14 at 9:37 pm

  3. I hope the interview went well. My personal comfort food is a hot fudge sundae.

    The article Jane linked to started out well with specific numbers about student debt but lost me with a personal attack on a couple of men.

    I lost interest completely at this paragraph.

    “The truth is, there are powerful forces at work in our society that are actively hostile to the college ideal. That distrust critical thinking and deny the proposition that democracy necessitates an educated citizenry. That have no use for larger social purposes. That decline to recognize the worth of that which can’t be bought or sold. Above all, that reject the view that higher education is a basic human right.”

    I happen to like critical thinking and an educated citizenry but consider the claim that higher education is a basic human right to be nonsense.


    27 Jun 14 at 6:14 pm

  4. It would be helpful if the various essayists on the crisis in higher education would begin by stating what they think it’s for, and then try to confine themselves to criticism which follows logically from that.
    I like critical thinking too–but there’s good evidence that few (if any) colleges and universities promote it. In that case, an “affordable” college education is still wasted money if critical thinking is the objective, and those who think it is or should be ought to be concentrating on why higher education does it so poorly.
    If the point is the liberal arts education then the question is what schools offer it, and whether the price is artificially inflated. The cost and rewards of becoming an MD at Johns Hopkins or an engineer at Cal Tech aren’t relevant.
    And so on down the line. But too often the articles I read, whether attacking or defending the state of higher education, don’t discuss what it’s for, or throw in arguments irrelevant to the stated mission.
    jd, I’m with you on the “basic human rights” thing. There seems to be a huge confusion between “it would be nice if people had” and “this is a basic human right”–mostly by people who expect to be well paid for the promotion of said “right.”

    Life, liberty and property.


    28 Jun 14 at 3:58 pm

  5. I’ve come to the conclusion that “It’s a basic human right that everyone should have X” is another way of saying “I think it’s extremely important for everyone to have X, but I can’t be bothered to think of reasons why because it’s so evidently true.”


    28 Jun 14 at 6:44 pm

  6. I think it was Jane who argued years ago and consistently since that if it is something that comes at the expense of somebody else, it can’t be a basic human right. Works for me.


    28 Jun 14 at 8:38 pm

  7. Back in the 70s I was working at the University of Wollongong. The university allowed staff to take courses for free. I took a number of Philosophy courses hoping to make sense of Human Rights. I ended up deciding that they made no sense since most of them required people to provide services or money to other people and I can’t see how there can be a right that other people provide you with anything.

    For example, there may be a right that no one kills you but I can’t see a right that people provide you with medical care.


    29 Jun 14 at 1:06 am

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