Colleges: Illiberal Enclaves of Groupthink?

BY AARON BARLOW Hank Reichman, on this blog the other day, quoted Donald Moynihan, a professor at the University of Wisconsin: “More people now believe that students oppose free speech, based on a flawed survey and resulting headlines. No correction will fix that.” He was referring to a “survey” conducted by a Brookings Institution Senior…

Becoming Interdisciplinary

BY AARON BARLOW “’Tis but thy name that is my enemy.” That line, and Juliet’s following thoughts, come to mind each time I listen to talk of interdisciplinary courses and programs. So bound are we by names and the divisions they create that we no longer seem able to see how ridiculous and small-minded we…

“Clickbait!”

BY AARON BARLOW In early 2016, I shared on this blog a statement by a tenured professor recently fired by the University of California at Riverside. One of the comments, by a former colleague of the ex-professor, accused me of posting his statement solely as “clickbait.” I chuckled, but the accusation rankled: the Academe blog…

Fighting Outcomes

BY AARON BARLOW Underlying the mania for “assessment” and “accountability” in higher education is an elitist sensibility that, having gone unexamined for too long, has undermined real efforts at providing useful education for everyone, no matter what college or what level. Not only is it creating a two-tiered model of education, but it is changing…

Assessing the ‘Outcomes’

BY AARON BARLOW Christine Emba, editor of In Theory, wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Post on July 28, 2017 calling the current mania for ‘outcomes’ a “familiar trap.” She was focusing on politics, particularly on the failure of health care ‘repeal and replace’ but her thoughts apply to education as well. They apply,…

On Stars and What They Eat

BY AARON BARLOW The other day, in a post on student agency, I complained again about the erzatz meritocracy of our star system of education. I tend to focus my attention in this area more on the classroom itself, where the best students get the most attention and support, though I do mention that the…

Student Agency

BY AARON BARLOW In the weeks after the Kent State killings in 1970, I grew increasingly perplexed and withdrawn. My campus—I was attending Utica College in upstate New York—shut down and students seemed triumphant. Triumphant, that is, in the matter of standing for a moment on center stage. But I was unhappy. For it wasn’t…

The Question for Students

BY AARON BARLOW What do you think of when someone says, “college student”? Probably a white kid, well spoken, from an upper-middle-class professional family—especially if that is your own background and was your own college experience. This was David Brooks’ experience. Yale, Duke and the University of Chicago are the campuses he knows and, very…