Flunking Higher Education

libartseducationby Glenn Fairman   11/28/16
Peace Studies, Black Studies, Women’s Studies, Ethnic Studies, even Marijuana Studies. These “Sensitivity Degrees,” from 40K plus a year universities, are coming home to roost — as our youth begin taking their surly bite out of the “reality sandwich.” Having initially lusted after those glossy course catalogs, what a cold slap in the face it was to learn that an engineering degree actually required spending nights burning the midnight oil, rather than the bong. How comforting it was to switch majors after the freshman term and saunter into the lukewarm waters of sub-mediocrity. How natural it felt to re-enter the progressive womb and be “Born Again” as a smart-phone toting infant – where the ability to emote (and bullshit) was valued over the cruel, patriarchal, intolerant, and narrow world of science and its unforgiving mistress: mathematics.

And even if one still wished to cultivate the traditional loosey-goosey creative life, these days the disciplines of: Philosophy, English, and Political Science are more representative of Progressive indoctrination than that once blessed golden path of diving deep into the human condition. Now, the liberal arts or social sciences are indispensable to a cultured society, but only in the last few generations has our moribund culture succumbed to the delusion that such knowledge was sufficient, in and of itself, for obtaining gainful employment. Little did they know that “The Technical City” has little need of such pleasantries, and this cruel revelation hit working class parents perhaps the hardest. Indeed, how many scrimping couples mortgaged their golden years so that little Heather and charming Max could swig and cavort to the dulcet tones of Higher Education – that velvet-lined Hamster box of learning? Having handed over their treasures to the long-hairs, Mom and Pop were handed back sniveling toddlers. And if we have learned anything from this vast transfer of wealth, it is that an expensive dumbed down liberal arts education only increases the difficulty of dynamiting the entitled little bastards out of the basement before we qualify for Medicare.

Listen. America has surpassed its solubility limit for the amount of parasites it can absorb and coddle. A knowledge of Foucault or Betty Friedan may impress in the decadent salons of Manhattan, but not so much in cleaning storm drains or in inquiring whether a patron would prefer a refill of his beverage of choice at that petit’ bourgeois establishment – Le’ Burger King.

What have we learned class? You’re taking too damn long to grow up here in America! And while the philosopher contemplates his indigence and the psych major has her head examined, the principle on that student loan ain’t budged a lick. How’s that for some fundamental transformation?

Glenn Fairman returns from the wilderness and writes from Highland, Ca.
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24 Responses to Flunking Higher Education

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    The sciences and engineering provide genuine education by necessity, and to a much lesser extent so do the social sciences (or at least some of them some of the time — history and economics seem to do best). In most colleges today, the humanities and education are simply not worth it, and the various “studies” are an expensive menace to society. (They didn’t exist in my day, but most of the rest was already true to some extent, or at least visibly on its way.)

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      The sciences and engineering provide genuine education by necessity

      Does an education in computer programing provide that today? I wonder how well educated many programmers are in any area other than 00’s and 11’s.

      It has been such a long time since I was in college that I don’t know.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        At least they learn computer science. When I was at Purdue, the minor was 12 to 18 hours (generally 4 to 6 courses) in the social sciences, humanities, etc. What courses you took was up to you; I ended up with 12 each in history and economics.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          When you were at Purdue you were required to take 4 to 6 courses in the social sciences. More importantly, those courses were part of a traditional curriculum meant to enlighten and they were likely taught by people who actually knew something about what they were teaching and wished to impart knowledge.

          Given today’s university environment and the complete degradation of humanities departments, I don’t see how science majors gain a broad education.

          Because our schools no longer teach morals or history, i.e. context, I am afraid the tool, technology, is no longer the “means”, it has become the “ends” in our society. This is dangerous.

          It is wonderful to be able to make a gun. It is something altogether different to know an appropriate time to use it.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            I still have a lot of the books we had in class in my courses on German and Eastern European history. Of course, I have no idea what the quality of the courses would be like today, or even how much science and engineering students need. (Computer science then was a branch of mathematical sciences within the School of Science.)

  2. Glenn Fairman says:

    “You’re taking too damn long to grow up here in America!” is a line delivered by Ike Willis as the “ThingFish,” Frank Zappa’s send up of Broadway (of the same title) in the early 80’s. It seemed proper to include it here.

  3. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    The mis-education of the American mind has reached a high point. One simply needs to listen to what would be considered serious TV (news, science programs, commentary) or read major publications for proof.

    While watching a Sunday morning “news” program, I was surprised when one member of the panel did not appear to know what another member of the same panel was talking about when he, referring to Trump’s actions, used the old phrase, “like Caesar’s wife, he must be above suspicion.”

    We are losing our common culture because our Western history and Shakespeare are no longer taught, and the Bible is being forgotten.

    • Faba Calculo says:

      Why wouldn’t the Bible be lost? It was never gained by the current crowd. I had an econ prof who taught the history of economic thought. He knew amazing facets of just about any philosophical book you could bring him. So I was shocked once when he, matter of factly, said he couldn’t remember how many gospels there are before guessing “five”.

  4. Steve Lancaster says:

    Education is at its heart, what you make of it, not the courses offered. The tragedy today is that the parent, teachers and administrators will not tell overzealous politicians to go to hell. Allen Bloom summed it up some 25 years ago with, “The Closing of the American Mind” I fear that in many cases the mind is now so closed that no amount of education will make a difference. Part of this is attributable to the lack of veterans in the education establishment.

    When I was in grammar school, and later high school at least half of my teachers were veterans of the depression, WWII, Korea and even one who recently returned from Vietnam. What they brought to the classroom was a personalized relationship between the ideals we believe in and the reality of defending those ideals.

    When I look back on my high school years almost 60 years ago. I can not help but relish the relative freedom we enjoyed compared to teens today. In junior high school my friends and I would often go hunting after school. We took our weapons to school. Consider for a moment the importance of that. Teenage boys took high powered long guns to school with ammunition, no one called in SWAT, parents did not sweep into the school to shield their snowflakes. Our teachers, including the principal expected us to use our freedom in a responsible manner, and for the most part we did. Of course, that does not mean the occasional outhouse wasn’t tipped or the six pack was not consumed at the drive in on Friday or Saturday night. We knew that if we got a DUI there would be hell to pay at home.

    I think the most important thing that can be taught in our schools is personal responsibly for our actions. That does not mean coming down with the full weight of government on mere stupid behavior but there should be consequences that fit the behavior, sadly that doesn’t happen today, perhaps that is the result of 75 years of Dr. Spock’s influence on child raising.

  5. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    We keep wondering when the various bubbles that are being built up will burst. Well, if not breakage, we have leakage in the form of the various Snowflakes, anarchists, and ne’er-do-wells protesting Trump and the election. The various “safe spaces” (aka “eternal Kindergartenism”) constructed for the trauma of hearing different opinions is more leakage of that bubble as well.

    Does anyone really understand this desire for Utopia that surely fuels most of this? The “Brave New World” often derided in dystopic novels is one of either a police state forcing everyone to say that all is well or a sensual delight wherein the populace is seduced into a state of pleasant dependency.

    But has anyone read a novel that predicted the eternal juvenalism that we are seeing now? I’m sure Timothy has. But I’m not aware of that outcome being the grist for dystopic novels.

    The backdrop for the expectation of what passes for “education” have been radically changed. “Social justice” (facts don’t matter…changing society in any way you can is what matters) has replaced wisdom and knowledge as the goal of education.

    Saying that doesn’t change anything. What could change this immediately is if parents would not participate in the funding of this Marxist-based scam. But they continue to as Homo Economicus keeps defining success purely through a material lens and not a character lens. Parents don’t mind if their children are turned into little Communists who need “safe spaces” so long as they get the required piece of (sometimes worthless) paper that announces to the world that they are fully accredited.

    I think one of the bubbles that can’t help but burst (and arguably there is already huge leakage in terms of outsourcing and automating) is the bubble of incompetence. I’m betting that all throughout society there are people who are not competent at their job but are kept there for social or political reasons.

    I don’t have the entire grasp of this situation, but it’s a good bet that the reason many companies outsource their jobs to other countries is not just because of lower wages. I think the pool of “talent” in America, such as it is, has long been eaten away by the maleducation system. Glenn and others would know more about this than I would, but I think it’s rather obvious that the public school system is on the leading edge of mainstreaming mediocrity, if not altogether incompetence.

    And then we get used to it. In fact, there are many administrative constraints against dispensing with a mediocre teacher…assuming there is anyone left these days to notice the mediocrity.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Off-hand, the first thing I can think of about a permanently juvenile society (and the consequences) is the “Miri” episode of Star Trek.

    • Steve Lancaster says:

      I can think of one movie that predicts the out come of this type of utopia, Zardoz done by John Boorman in the mid 70s.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I’ll have to check that one out, Steve. I don’t offhand see a Kindle edition, but Sean Connery stars in a movie by the same name. Would that be it?

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Yes, it is. It involves a bifurcated society — an inner utopia of people seeking to stay young (though I don’t know if I’d call it juvenile necessarily — but it was 40 years ago, and I wouldn’t have been thinking that way) and a more primitive outer society that they hate but that provides their bread (literally).

          • Steve Lancaster says:

            One other important point about Zardoz is that the utopians are immortal and forever young punish non-PC thoughts and actions by causing the offender to age; other utopians give up on life and become what they call apathetic essentially mindless. The ultimate punishment is forced old age and senility.

            The part Connery plays is a genetically enhanced primitive brought into the compound by radical utopians to destroy the compound and grant death to all.

            There is some interesting social commentary to this movie that our current group of snowflakes would find offensive, all the more reason to like it. I believe it is available on Amazon to rent for about 5 dollars.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            The movie looks to be of the “so bad it’s good” type. I’ll have to watch it.

  6. David says:

    In reading this article and comments, I am mindful of Bloom’s “The Closing of the American Mind”. This book has merit no matter which direction you approach it. This seminal treatise clearly identifies the paucity of American academia in general and higher education in particular.
    As with all things, in the getting of them, get understanding – to paraphrase a scripture from Proverbs. My take on that is there may be a difference between the mere acquisition of knowledge – and the intelligent application of it.
    It would seem that the balance of our educational system has certainly been tilted in a concerted direction for some time. But at whose feet does this effort lie? I suspect the readers of this column are well aware.
    I would applaud a ‘new’ direction that places learning in a more ‘balanced’ manner where we would receive ‘spiritual’ understanding – and perhaps….wisdom.

  7. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    An informative article about the state of traditional black colleges in the USA.


    Can you think of a better way to created disgruntled people than fooling them into believing they have received a good education in high school and then having them find out that they are not so bright as they were led to believe? Add to this the scam of having them take out thousands in loans, which they will not be able to pay back, for an education they never receive.

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