Is Bauerlein’s “What’s the Point of a Professor?” a Demonstration?

We used to be mentors and moral authorities. Now we just hand out A’s.

Source: What’s the Point of a Professor? – NYTimes.com

I don’t know if it is a demonstration, but it may be.  He has been in this blog before.  The link is within the comment I made.

I wrote,

“I’m a former professor, and I advise anyone who wants to understand colleges to read this essay. It is informative in an unexpected way.

Prof. Bauerlein writes,

“..You can’t become a moral authority if you rarely challenge students…and engage them…When it comes to students, we…have only one authority…grades..”

I agree with the statement, but making it has nothing to do with whether the author actually is a “moral authority”. That is an important point about professors. Many make such statements, not because they are moral, but because they want to get ahead in an environment where such statements sell themselves and their institutions.

As Emerson once said, “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”

I don’t know Prof. Bauerlein, but I read his defense of AP courses. He wrote this about an AP course revision committee that he chaired.

“..If enough colleges regarded something as important we incorporated it..”

Sounds like lowest common denominator to me.

I have personally seen AP calculus dumbed down dramatically. Caltech calls it “woefully inadequate“. (That quote, Bauerlein’s comments, and more, can be found on my blog, inside-higher-ed )

Does Prof. Bauerlein use the “authority” of “grades” to teach, as he advocates? If he doesn’t (And, after reading a few student comments, I worry that he doesn’t.*), then the takeaway from this essay should be that he has done a good job of representing what is wrong with American education.”

*These excerpts are from rate my professor. They are from lower level (required, I think) courses he teaches.

“…Class was super easy and there wasn’t a lot of work, but there were weekly homework assignments. They took tops 25 mins each though.”

“…Once you adapt to his writing style, however, you are ensured to get a B+…”

“…an easy grade…”

 

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