Quite appropriately, prospective college students and their families are looking for colleges and universities, and specific majors, that will help the student prepare for a successful future career. It is easy to see the path from accounting or nursing major to C.P.A. or R.N., but less so the path for English or Sociology majors leading to a particular career. Or even why a strong liberal arts core curriculum would be an important part of a professional degree program.
The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) has long promoted the value of a Liberal Education. Specifically, they are “…focused on advancing and strengthening liberal education for all college students, regardless of their intended careers…AAC&U sees liberal education as a philosophy of education that empowers individuals with broad knowledge and transferable skills, and a strong sense of value, ethics, and civic engagement.” The importance of these skills to employers was made in their 2008 report, College Learning for the New Global Century.
But is the message reaching prospective students and their families? Continue reading
Numerous studies indicate that the skills produced by a quality liberal arts education correspond precisely to what employers seek beyond technical training. The ability to articulate, write, apply quantitative methods, use technology, and work in a collaborative setting will continue to shape the parameters of the skill set needed in the 21st century.
So, why do liberal arts graduates, especially humanities majors, suffer from inaccurate and inconsistent portrayals of their attractiveness to employers?
There are likely several reasons behind this inconsistency. Continue reading
About a year ago, Steven Krause (of Eastern Michigan University) and Charles Lowe (of Grand Valley State University) came up with the idea of a collaborative anthology of essays on MOOCs, twinning an experiment in scholarship with exploration of an experiment in education. The anthology appeared last week, showing the success of the approach to scholarship–but also providing a chronicle of the quick rise and fall of an educational fad. It is called Invasion of the MOOCs: The Promise and Perils of Massive Open Online Courses.
As Krause writes in the concluding essay, “After the Invasion: What’s Next for MOOCs?” in 2013:
The invasion of the MOOCs seemed inevitable: for better or worse, massive online open courses in one form or another were going to be a part of the future of higher education, and the question that most of the writers in this collection consider is what is that inevitable future likely to look like.
But as we go to press in 2014, that future is a little less certain.
A lot less certain, I would say. The MOOC is not going to go away, but it will merely be (like television and all of the other electronic possibilities that were to “save” education) a tool and not a solution. Continue reading
If you have been watching the new HBO anthology series, True Detective, you may be very ambivalent about watching tomorrow night’s final episode in the initial story. If you haven’t been watching, it features Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as detectives investigating a series of bizarre, ritualistically sadistic killings that have stretched over two decades. The series is set along the Gulf Coast of Lousiana, much of which seems to represent the last tenuous refuge for both the endemically impoverished and the malevolently maladjusted.
On the one hand, the final episode will finally provide a resolution to a very complex and compelling story that has been presented with tremendous skill. The acting, directing, and writing have all been very equal to each other—a rare accomplishment in television or film. On the other hand, the brevity of the story—its having been presented in a mere eight episodes—means that once the final episode is over, we will begin to regret that we will not be seeing any more of detectives Marty Hart and Rust Cohle. The plan seems to be to be that each story in the anthology will include a completely different cast of characters and criminal focus.
I imagine that the stories in this anthology will be somewhat widely separated on the calendar for two reasons. First, like David Chase with The Sopranos, Nic Pizzolatto not only has been solely responsible for the writing of the series but has also been serving as the executive producer. Certainly he is going to need a break in order to recharge his batteries and to keep things fresh. Second, this first story has been so totally engaging, so distinctively fascinating, that the next story is almost certain to seem somewhat disappointing, especially if it follows almost immediately on the conclusion of this story. If you will allow me a sports analogy, in baseball, when a batter hits a grand-slam home run, it is very rare that he gets the chance to hit another one in the next at bat. So even if he hits another home run, never mind a triple, a double, or a single, it will pale in comparison to what he did in the previous at bat.
As soon as I watched the initial episode of the series, I wondered who Nic Pizzolatto was and whether he had written any novels or stories. Continue reading
On March 9, 1964, the unanimous US Supreme Court issued its decision in the case of New York Times v. Sullivan, revolutionizing freedom of the press by requiring “actual malice” in defamation suits involving public figures. The case began when a fundraising ad for the civil rights movement appeared in the New York Times, criticizing violence in the segregated south. L.B. Sullivan, an obscure Montgomery commissioner unnamed in the ad, claimed that criticism of the police harmed his reputation. The Rev. Joseph Lowery is the last surviving figure in the case, and he was an accidental defendant.
Official White House Photo of Rev. Lowery by Chuck Kennedy
Last month, I reported on the results of an annual study conducted by the National Science Foundation that measures the interest in and knowledge of basic science among a large sample of American adults. The study showed that the professed interest in science far exceeded the demonstrated knowledge of science. In fact, in some respects the lack of even the most basic knowledge led me to assert that something else is at work beyond some failure of our schools and teachers. Among the most dismal results, the most shocking was that about one in four respondents answered incorrectly on whether the Earth orbits around the Sun. I suggested that one doesn’t even need a school or a teacher to learn such basic things. If one is an adult, one needs only to have been intermittently conscious over the first two-plus decades of your life in order to have absorbed such basic information.
Well, here we are at least two to three decades into the information age, in which personal computing devices and the Internet have become not just commonplace tools or toys but almost universal elements of our daily lives, and a recent survey demonstrates that American’s basic knowledge of technology is as deficient as their knowledge of science. Continue reading
The Ohio Conference of AAUP (OCAAUP) has joined such groups as the Ohio Education Association (OEA), Ohio Federation of Teachers (OFT), New Faculty Majority (NFM), Ohio Part-Time Faculty Association (OPTFA), and Ohio Student Association (OSA) in forming a statewide advocacy group on issues related to higher education. After taking some time to create an operating structure and to define its goals, the group held its first press conference this past week. What follows is the news items that the OCAAUP is distributing to its members.
On Tuesday, March 4, the Ohio Higher Education Coalition (OHEC) held its first press conference announcing the formation of the coalition, highlighting student debt stories, and calling for restoration of the Ohio College Opportunity Grant (OCOG), which gives need-based aid to lower income students.
David Coleman, head of the College Board (of SAT fame) and sparkplug to the creation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), seems to believe that if we can measure it, we can know it and evaluate it. He also seems to believe that measurement results in truth absolute, not truth relative, a mindset more comfortable to 18th and 19th-century thought than it should be to the 21st-century world of post-Einsteinian understanding. His beliefs are, at their core, simplistic, reductive, and regressive. Simplistic in that they narrow learning to memorization and established process; reductive in that they ignore anything that cannot be measured; regressive in that they can only look to what has been established, not to speculation or invention, to what will or can be discovered in the future. Such a mindset of arrogance of the known sweeps away any enthusiasm for the exploration.
Coleman is in the process of changing the SAT, something about as valuable as putting a new coat of paint on an ’86 Yugo. The resulting vehicle may look a little better, but it still is doubtful as a means of getting anyone where they want to go. Continue reading
A crowd-powered newsletter for a writing-centered community
We hope all’s well with you and your classes.
This month we are delighted to announce the winner of the Aaron Swartz Award for 2013: Congratulations, Andrea Scott, Assistant Professor at Pitzer College, whose article “Formulating a Thesis” was published in April 2013.
We are honored to carry on the tradition of publishing innovative creative writing webtexts with the publication of “Dances with Dialogue: The Difficulty of Speaking” by the world-acclaimed playwright David Kranes.
For those of you who are considering writing for us, check out Jenna Pack’s reflections on her experience publishing at Writing Commons. Since ”Breaking Down an Image“ was published in April 2012, it’s been viewed 11,396 times; her second webtext, “Using First Person in an Academic Essay: When is it Okay?” has been viewed 42,184 times!
Published Webtexts Continue reading
The following statement was released today by the Steering Committee of AAUP’s California Conference:
The California Conference of the American Association of University Professors (CA-AAUP) endorses Assembly Bill 2705.
The bill changes terms used by the California Education Code to describe the hard-working professional educators who now teach the majority of our community college students.
AB 2705 Section 1 acknowledges that “the terms ‘part-time faculty’ and ‘temporary faculty’ do not adequately describe the qualifications, contributions, and importance of the community college faculty to whom those terms have been applied.”
AB 2705 replaces “part-time” and “temporary” with the term “associate faculty,” which it holds is “a more accurate and useful term with which to refer to these educators, who are so integral to the successful functioning of community colleges in this state.” Continue reading