July 4, 2005

Independence is a state of mind

Thanks to former history grad student eb's reorganization of the blog no great matter, I found out about two of Timothy Burke's entries on intellectual diversity from February and December 2004. In them, Burke points out the more subtle ruts that academics fall into based on disciplinary and institutional mores and suggests that most academics are fairly conservative in thinking about academe.

In the meantime, I've been reading Hersh and Merrow's edited volume, Declining by Degrees, just out from Palgrave as the companion to Merrow's documentary of the same name. Thus far, the essays are of highly mixed quality; somehow, despite most of them being outside academe, the majority of essays strike me as self-indulgent whining about colleges rather than carefully researched or thought out. For example, even though he is usually more careful when writing about elementary and secondary schools, Washington Post writer Jay Mathews sees college's treatment of AP courses as a synecdoche for the laziness with which faculty look at their own curricula. Maybe I have higher expectations for him, but couldn't he have done a bit of independent research rather than rely on his previous work on AP courses?

Ah, well. Can't have everything. Have a happy holiday, everyone!

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Posted in Academic freedom on July 4, 2005 5:46 AM |