So here is where the last thirty years all led: to too many students who are indebted, poorly educated, and without skills like high-tech engineering, sophisticated medicine, or computer design that the country needs. They are consumed with contemporary furor as the education bubble of nearly a trillion dollars in debt is about to burst. They are mad at the system that they were taught oppresses them, but also at themselves. Who would not be after spending so much money for something of so little value? Nothing is more embarrassing to watch than arrogance coupled with ignorance — and spiced with occasional glibness and the slow realization that they’ve been had.
I think in over twenty years of teaching I received about 5,000 memos warning me about insidious practices of sexism, racism, classism, or other sorts of oppression, what the chair, dean, provost, president was doing about it (usually setting up a watchdog faculty committee) — and not a single one wondering how we could bring rigor to the curriculum and real learning to the students.
Grade inflation and the progressive replacement of academic rigor with political posturing has created a modern university education that is indistinguishable from four more years of high school – when it doesn’t extent to five or six.
Students who pursue degrees in the few remaining disciplines of discipline will get an education, or at the very least receive training, and will have a career to show for it. Those who merely attend college without any realistic plan or goal for what comes after will find themselves many thousands of dollars in debt with nothing to show for it but an imaginary studies degree and a job serving up coffee and donuts, and will still be living in their parents’ basement at age 27.