RE: [xmca] University & Conformity

From: larry smolucha <lsmolucha who-is-at>
Date: Wed May 28 2008 - 11:24:43 PDT

Message from Francine Smolucha:
>From a historical perspective, we are bemoaning the decline of the
Classical University based on the analysis of classical literary texts
(psychologists like Vygotsky included) and on the synthesis of new conceptual systems.
At the same time, at the same universities, the model of 19th century German Research Institute thrives in medical research, and technology programs, that are both innovative and rigorous.
The Classical University always did have a problem with the group think that stonewalled
the creative innovative thinkers that managed to exist at the periphery of the university
(Freud, Einstein, Marx, Vygotsky, Charles Saunders Pierce, to name a few.)
My husband calls this the Outre Mer, the edge of the sea were the French Foreign
Legion served. That concept has sustained us, all these years, as we received
postcards from professors at universities like the Sorbonne and Oxford, asking for copies of our
papers - postcards that were often sent to the community college where I taught full-time.
(Our graduate degrees from the University of Chicago, aligned us with one of the
great Classical Universities and the first German Research Institute in the USA.)
But I think we might be seeing the total demise of the Classical University.
Even the small liberal arts colleges are being undermined by the "student as customer"
mentality, that makes education an economic transaction where the "customer
is always right."
We may be able to educate enough students in scholarly discourse styles,
literary analysis, and creative synthesis, so that these skills do not totally disappear.
But, I think we will also need to pass on some affective strengths, as well, so
our students can survive emotionally in cultural systems that undermine intellectual
integrity. Cultural systems that are based on superficial media and internet babble (pseudo-discourse, pseudo-knowledge), miseducation in schools (the "customer is always right"),
and the growing strength of fundamentalist belief systems (with many very different
cultural origins.)
It is encouraging that this topic has awaken a lively discussion on the xmca list-serve.
The internet could play a vital role in keeping scholarly discourse alive when individuals
are in isolated and non-supportive environments.
> Date: Tue, 27 May 2008 08:51:27 -0700> From: jocunsa who-is-at> To:> Subject: Re: [xmca] University & Conformity> > Hope I am not replying to this one too late, but Mike's observations really> strike a chord with me. Particularily observation #1 which sums up my> undergrad experience @ Penn State. I have to say that I feel like I did not> learn how to learn until I got grad school. Yeah there were things that> interested me that I retained for my own purposes but the assessments in> general were pretty bad. My lack of interest in memorizing random tidbits of> a textbook reminded me too much of basic training, which when i was> undergrad i was trying to forget. Sadly I remember more from my military> experience -- though that's a different story.> > Right now I am on a project which is studying engineering undergrads, and I> am often struck by how engineering educators suggest that an engineering> degree is the "new liberal arts degree". There seems to be a few meanings> attached to this phrase, but it gets under my skin how much the "old liberal> arts degree" means little of anything anymore. In order to do anything with> such a degree, you need to have some graduate degree. So how and when did> the bachelor's degree become so proletarian? It seems you can say the same> about a master's degree as well now.> > andy> _______________________________________________> xmca mailing list>>
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Received on Wed May 28 11:27 PDT 2008

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