March Commentary

Commentary

Lots of thoughtful writers make stimulating comments, and copyright laws plus economics and focus prevent us from turning the Faculty Voice into a reprint publication. But there are a few brief items that we’d like to share.

 

Culture

“The discussion of culture is being steadily absorbed into the discussion of business. There are ‘metrics’ for phenomena that cannot be metrically measured. Numerical values are assigned to things that cannot be captured by numbers. Economic concepts go rampaging through noneconomic realms: Economists are our experts on happiness! Where wisdom once was, quantification will now be. Quantification is the most overwhelming influence upon the contemporary American understanding of, well, everything. It is enabled by the idolatry of data, which has itself been enabled by the almost unimaginable data-generating capabilities of the new technology. The distinction between knowledge and information is a thing of the past, and there is no greater disgrace than to be a thing of the past. Beyond its impact upon culture, the new technology penetrates even deeper levels of identity and experience, to cognition and to consciousness.”

Source: Leon Wieseltier, “Among the Disrupted,” NY Times Book Review, 7 January 2015

 

Teaching

“Could your students identify the most important concepts in your discipline? Do they leave your class understanding these most fundamental concepts, including the ability to reason using these concepts to answer essential questions? Do your students become critical thinkers who connect concepts and practices in your course with other courses? With their future professional lives? Traditional ways of teaching and the customary use of textbooks can hinder the development of critical thinking and meaningful learning. …”

Source: Faculty Focus, 12 January 2015

 

Meritocracy

“Through their admissions criteria, our colleges and universities have adopted [Michael Dunlop] Young’s nightmarish meritocracy. Cocky boys and girls internalize success and take personal credit for the trappings of privilege, including the educational resources and networks of their college-educated parents. The rise of the testocratic meritocracy has enabled those already at the top of the heap to continue to preside without a sense of moral or political accountability. They believe that their ‘advancement comes from their own merits,’ as Young writes, and thus that they are entitled to their power.”

Source: The Chronicle Review, 9 January 2015) The article is adapted from her book, The Tyranny of the Meritocracy, 2015

 

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