Stephen E Philion philion at hawaii.edu
Wed Feb 10 22:49:32 PST 1999

On Wed, 10 Feb 1999, Greg Nowell wrote:

> I could give so many examples. Some students in our
> department (3) upset with the general atmosphere of
> apathy, organized a meeting between students and
> faculty to discuss the major and ways of making it more
> appealing. Leaflets, announcements in classes. 14
> faculty showed up (out of 20). Four students showed up
> (out of 400).

Gosh, not a very strong example. Sounds like you have 396 smart students and 4 students who haven't been clued into the notion of 'house organ,' which is what such 'meetings of the minds' tend to be...
> But there is this question of produtive capability (in
> terms of granting degrees) versus the yield of the ore
> that's being processed. Back in 1900, college
> education itself was so elite that the ratio of well
> heeled well schooled students with an interest to those
> that were bored stiff was very high. As education gets
> broadened, we bring in large classes of people that
> really are at sea with the whole notion of sitting and
> concentrating in front of a text. I think the
> "budding intellectual" component has been diluted to an
> expansion of the throughput capability. Maybe they're
> stupider. But thhere was a lot of stupidity in earlier
> times. Now they just watch TV instead of fuck cows in
> between revivalist tent meetings.

Not stupider. More exposed to educational institutions that are not nearly equipped with the proper funding and infrastructure to provide a good education to begin with.

> Part of the problem is despair on the order of all I'm
> gong to be is a shoe clerk. Self-fulfilling.

Or part of it, a big part, is realism. Young people know the education system is designed to secure them a job. Especially in times of fewer and fewer good jobs, this idea becomes even more common sensical. Blaming students for their recognition of this social fact and their choice to not attach much importance to the notion of learning for the sake of learning aint gonna get us any further to solving the problem.

> Now, what I will say: a few smart ones "get it." And
> the ones that only kinda get it at least are being
> exposed to real ideas rather than textbooks. None of
> them reads, so at least they're not reading Keynes
> rather than not reading some bland textbook.

At least you haven't given up on them as so many professors do...Then again, their cynical view of their students and their refusal to go the extra nine yards is also, unfortunately, rational given the lack of investment put into teaching university students...and the subsequently unrealistic expectations and pressures placed on teachers to solve the problems of an underfunded school system...


> --
> Gregory P. Nowell
> Associate Professor
> Department of Political Science, Milne 100
> State University of New York
> 135 Western Ave.
> Albany, New York 12222
> Fax 518-442-5298

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