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.
1 comment on “Now, Go Suck the Gas Pipe”
I’m sick and tired of people bemoaning the state of the world, as if there used to be some sort of golden age in the past.
I’m sure the intellectual discussions were great in 17th century Oxford, but the fact is that the students then were mainly wealthy noblemen. Isaac Newton was only able to attend college because of patronage, and even he had to work as a servant during his undergrad years.
It’s easy to think airy, lofty thoughts when you know you will inherit enough wealth never to have to work.
If the students find school so boring, maybe the problem lies with the school, and not the students.
Instead of griping, the professor would be better served by focusing his energies on figuring out what his students would find interesting!