William Deresiewicz’s Incisive Observation Taken to Its Logical Conclusion

How college sold its soul to the market

Source: [Essay] | The Neoliberal Arts, by William Deresiewicz | Harper’s Magazine

I commented.

To truly change higher education, the critical observation that college is neoliberal, needs to be followed to its logical conclusion.

What has damned higher education in America is the neoliberalist view of colleges on their OWN behalf, not on the behalf of their “consumers”.

Because their “consumers” are still uneducated and young, they can get away with fooling their customers into “thinking” they are getting what they “think” they need.

David Riesman and Clark Kerr saw all of this clearly. (Complete quotes and references are on my blog inside-higher-ed .)

Riesman wrote that

“…the “wants” of students to which competing institutions, departments, and individual faculty members cater are quite different from the “needs” of students…advantage can…be taken of [students] by unscrupulous instructors and
institutions..”

Kerr wrote about professors, that

“…there has been an increase in the influence in universities of…the ‘me generation’ who…neglect academic citizenship, [including]…to students…”

To see how far colleges are willing to go, I recommend reading about how chairs and deans at Wash. U. in St. Louis, tried to get me to “not cause them problems” and focus on “retention” (a word used in response to my email to the Dean of Academic Integrity that explained that the students doing poorly were the ones who cheated on homework).

I was covering material for engineers in a way similar to MIT. They wanted to go back to the “normal way” where students can proudly make an A without being able to do MIT type problems. That’s how students are tricked into THINKING they are getting
what they THINK they need.

This must be understood and then changed, or we are in deep trouble. The observations in this article are a great start.

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