Monday, October 24, 2005

The Continuing Crisis in Higher Education

Today I experienced a particularly disturbing graduate class. There were a number of factors that influenced this episode, and I think that they are not uncommon in higher education across the board.

Our class session was concerning organizational theory. The particular organizational metaphor that we were examining was organizations as instrument of domination. Although this is a useful metaphor for organizational analysis, the crux of the argument centers on the rejection of capitalism for a more socialist or marxist view. Our professor, who was bent on teaching us what we were to get out of the unit, was sure to use as examples large companies downsizing in metropolitan areas and therefore destroying communities. His enormously foolish example in particular referenced a GE plant in Ohio that produced jet engines during the Vietnam war. Organizational theory as an instrument of domination tells us that GE is an evil company that does not value its employees. However, reality tells us that when a company loses demand for its products and does not continue to make the same money that it once did, it must cut costs in some ways. It becomes "wrong" in my opinion when corporations' CEO's continue to make multi-millions when their employees go out on the street.

Revisionist History
While discussing gender bias in society our professor argued that women in politics encounter more opposition than do their male counterparts. He questioned whether Harriet Miers' criticism was rooted in her being a women. However, the next example exemplifies liberal revisionist history. He claimed that Teresa Heinz Kerry underwent criticism because she was a woman. He claimed, incredibly, that she was even considered a "liability" because of her outspoken and "un-ladylike" ways. I could tolerate this no longer.

I interrupted the professor and reminded him that Teresa Kerry was not ridiculed because she was an outspoken women, but rather because she said numerous amazingly stupid things. Does anyone remember these?

You said something I didn't say. Now shove it.

Or how about this favorite:

I don't know Laura Bush. But she seems to be calm, and she has a sparkle in her eye, which is good. But I don't know that she's ever had a real job - I mean, since she's been grown up.

But remember that academia wants you to remember Teresa Kerry as an oppressed yet outspoken woman. She, uh, wasn't...

The sad fact that this episode shows is that those grad students in my class that have a weaker grasp on history or economics will undoubtedly begin to believe these socialist and liberal ideas. Herein lies the true crisis in higher education. Our professor has no real ability to apply his ideas outside of the classroom; therefore, inside the classroom is where he will forever stay - passing on his radical and debunked social agenda.

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