3/25/10

Idea for A Department Seminar Series

As I grade UPPER division papers for my philosophy course, I propose
that my department hold a number of pedagogical seminars for our
students.

Here's my short list of seminars:

What is a sentence?

What are commas for?

Why be grammatical?

When should quotation "marks" be put around "words" and why should you "care"?

If these go well, I suggest this major seminar undertaking:

What is the principle of charity and when should you follow your
professor's advice to be charitable and when should you just be
content to go off half-cocked with big words and the strong
conviction that you're smarter than any of the authors mentioned in
your paper?

3/21/10

Are behemoth universities caused by corporate pressures?

I've engaged Rob Koons on his notion that "charter colleges" are a
solution to the decline of the liberal arts. A link to his original
piece, my letter, and his response are here:
http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/03/1191

Of note in his response to my letter are the following claims: "I
find it hard to see a direct causal link between the rise of
corporations and the fall of the liberal arts in the university....
The humanities are not dying because the business schools are
flourishing: the demise of the humanities is self-inflicted.

He goes on to say, "The pursuit of profits is in itself an innocent
and even wholesome activity, one as old as civilization itself."

I'm thinking about a response. Got one? Send it to the Witherspoon Institute.

3/20/10

BAD is Still GOOD

"About a century ago, Americans set out to experience the higher
learning, but after a brief trial, they found they didn't like it. It
was too hard and too serious: Latin and Greek took years to learn,
and the noble, magnanimous heroes of ancient, medieval, and
Renaissance history seemed useless and 'irrelevant' as 'role models'
for the main American activity, making money. An acquaintance with
the principles of logic and evidence was found an actual impediment
to enthusiasm and good fellowship, and skeptical studies in the
history of popular error and the domination of societies by
superstition and mobs seemed undemocratic, indeed 'elitist.' A few
genuinely educated people found that precise reasoning and analysis
and the disinterested scrutiny of phenomena others uncritically took
for granted constituted no formula for gaining 'popularity.' In
short, it was soon discovered that real education was of little value
in the American life of action, ambition, acquisitivenesses, and
getting-on. In fact, just the opposite: the devolopment of intellect
led only to an un-American life of study and contemplation."

Paul Fussell, BAD: The Dumbing of America
http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Dumbing-America-Paul-Fussell/dp/0671792288