My friend Ben Springwater at Williams College sent me this essay by a U of Virginia professor that bemoans the state of higher education. It’s the kind of stuff that makes you want to suck the gas pipe – my generation is a consumer culture yearning for entertainment. Oh the good ole’ days, this professor says, when students would have animated conversations about intellectual affairs. Now, they’re too busy surfing their "100 cable channels."
Being so culturally pessimistic is flip, and particularly condescending when coming from the ivory tower. But – but! – this essay does raise some points I’ve discussed on this blog. Incredibly, people still romanticize college and higher ed to an unrealistic degree. People still view it as a melting pot of ideas and the only time you’ll get pure intellectual stimulation for four years. This professor argues, with some merit, that you’re more likely to find students drinking beer to MTV than a novel idea that may challenge the status quo.
There are big problems with education and my generation, but such doomsayer pessimism is not the way to fix it.