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‘Punch with Care’

BY AARON BARLOW Every discipline falls into a pattern of standard practice; every few years each must reassess. The same is true for the institutions that house them. This happens, of course, too rarely—in both cases. Over the weekend, I read two pieces—an essay and a book review—that made me think about the staleness that…

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The Road Taken

BY AARON BARLOW When I was an undergraduate, students and faculty saw a great deal of each other. We went to dinner at faculty homes, saw our teachers at concerts and art shows as well as frequently throughout the day. The faculty lived near campus and students were the prime focus of their professional lives.…

GIGO U

GIGO University

BY AARON BARLOW Yesterday, for April Fools Day, I posted Gig University, an only slightly satiric look at where some people would like higher education to head. It presents a reductivist vision of humanity and human possibilities. We—or, at least, the masses of us—become nothing more than material to be processed or cogs to fit…

GIG U

Gig University

There’s no point in continuing college and university structures as they have existed for over a century. They’re too expensive, inefficient and poorly focused. An entire culture has built up around them, including assumptions about the experience, the faculty and the outcome. These can all be swept away without materially affecting the quality of instruction…

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Against Grants

BY AARON BARLOW A decade or so ago, I applied for a travel grant to examine papers of Carlos Salzedo, a twentieth-century French/American harpist. The request was turned down, the result of a scathing evaluation by someone who was incensed that I had not mentioned the other important French/American harpist of the time, Marcel Grandjany.…

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Academic Productivity

BY AARON BARLOW In a column for Inside Higher Ed this week, Philip Nel of Kansas State University creates a list of the reasons so many academics work so much. It’s an essay worth reading, not only because it flies in the face of the myth that professors lead lives of ease but because of…

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Forget the Man: Look at Trump’s Supporters

BY AARON BARLOW The focus of discussion on Donald Trump is, understandably, the man himself—but the phenomenon of his success arises elsewhere. What Gertrude Stein said about Oakland, that “there is no there there,” applies to the man: all we have “there” is a massive ego. Trump is simply a skilled entertainer, Howard Beale of…

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Anti-Undead Teaching Philosophy: Overview

Originally posted on onedayinthelife:
My teaching philosophy rests on the perhaps tendentious conviction that out of all college courses, freshman writing is perhaps the most important one students take, and for this simple reason: it teaches them how to think. Trouble is, thinking is hard; teaching how to think, harder still. Many of you teach…

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Faculty Become ‘Drowned Bunnies,’ Too

BY AARON BARLOW Two members of the new AAUP chapter at Mount St. Mary’s University—one tenured, one not—have been fired. According to an article by Scott Jaschik on Inside Higher Ed today, that leaves only ten chapter members. One, a tenured philosophy professor, was fired for disloyalty. The other, the faculty advisor to The Mountain…

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“Which Side Are You On?”

BY AARON BARLOW The crisis is upon us. It has been building—the pressure on a fault line—for at least 45 years, certainly since the Powell Memo of 1971. By soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, it includes this: One of the bewildering paradoxes of our time is the extent to which the enterprise system tolerates,…