Re: [xmca] University & Conformit

From: Mike Cole <lchcmike who-is-at>
Date: Sat Jun 07 2008 - 09:46:49 PDT

Hi Francine--

I think a LOT of people are thinking about this issue:

* But I think we might be seeing the total demise of the Classical
Even the small liberal arts colleges are being undermined by the "student as
mentality, that makes education an economic transaction where the "customer
is always right."*

A question associated with all of this is what NON-COMMERCIAL modes of
intellectual life
of the sort that have traditionally been carried on in the outre mer as well
as bastions of
traditional education (e.g. uchicago in private form, univ of california in
public form) are possible.

As you can see, we are crawling toward ways of enhancing the intellectual
resources at XMCA
and we know we can organize seminars and even courses when we want to take
the trouble to
do it. But it does require at least the resource of time (and for those in
less digitally privileged
environments, money spent on new technologies) and there is no clear model
but rather
a huge polyphony or fragmented bits a pieces circulating.

Maybe that suffices for most if not all contemporary scholars?

On Wed, May 28, 2008 at 11:24 AM, larry smolucha <>

> 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:> 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 Sat Jun 7 09:47 PDT 2008

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