Age of Ignorance

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Fairgoers cheer for Sarah Palin while she appears on the Sean Hannity Show at the Iowa State Fair, August 12, 2011

Widespread ignorance bordering on idiocy is our new national goal. It’s no use pretending otherwise and telling us, as Thomas Friedman did in the Times a few days ago, that educated people are the nation’s most valuable resources. Sure, they are, but do we still want them? It doesn’t look to me as if we do. The ideal citizen of a politically corrupt state, such as the one we now have, is a gullible dolt unable to tell truth from bullshit.

An educated, well-informed population, the kind that a functioning democracy requires, would be difficult to lie to, and could not be led by the nose by the various vested interests running amok in this country. Most of our politicians and their political advisers and lobbyists would find themselves unemployed, and so would the gasbags who pass themselves off as our opinion makers. Luckily for them, nothing so catastrophic, even though perfectly well-deserved and widely-welcome, has a remote chance of occurring any time soon. For starters, there’s more money to be made from the ignorant than the enlightened, and deceiving Americans is one of the few growing home industries we still have in this country. A truly educated populace would be bad, both for politicians and for business. Συνέχεια

A College Degree Sorts Job Applicants, but Employers Wish It Meant More

FROM ‘MARKETPLACE’

Internships Make the Difference

For some employers, on-the-job experience may matter more than a student’s major or grade-point average.

What Companies Want

Employers say that recent graduates often don’t know how to communicate effectively, and struggle with adapting, problem-solving, and making decisions.

FROM THE SURVEY Συνέχεια

Strategy for American humanities: blow them up and start again

8 November 2012

A declining, out-of-touch discipline and its vocational counterpart must merge to offer a thriving third way, argues Toby Miller

 

Strategy for American humanities: blow them up and start again

Credit: James Fryer

The humanities in the US are finished. They are unpopular with students, politicians and bureaucrats.

Students vote through enrolment. The humanities’ share of majors stands at 8-12 per cent of the nation’s undergraduates. That’s less than half the figure in the 1960s and the lowest point since the Second World War, apart from Ronald Reagan’s recession.

Between 1970-71 and 2003-04, English majors declined from 7.6 to 3.9 per cent of the national total, other languages and literatures dropped from 2.5 to 1.3 per cent, philosophy and religious studies fell from 0.9 to 0.7 per cent, and history decreased from 18.5 to 10.7 per cent. By contrast, business enrolment increased by 176 per cent and communication studies shot up 616 per cent. Συνέχεια

The politics of ‘anti-politics’

Wednesday, 11 December 2013 19:58

Written by Elizabeth Humphrys & Tad Tietze

After Russell Brand’s attack on the political system, Elizabeth Humphrys and Tad Tietze of the Australian blog Left Flank offer some thoughts on ‘anti-politics’

Russell Brand at Anonymous protest. Photo by @sparkers7Russell Brand at Anonymous protest. Photo by @sparkers7

‘At a certain point in their historical lives, social classes become detached from their traditional parties. In other words, the traditional parties in that particular organisational form, with the particular men who constitute, represent, and lead them, are no longer recognised by their class (or fraction of a class) as its expression.’

—Gramsci (1971), Selections From The Prison Notebooks, p. 210

‘If the ruling class has lost its consensus, i.e. is no longer “leading” but only “dominant”, exercising coercive force alone, this means precisely that the great masses have become detached from their traditional ideologies, and no longer believe what they used to believe previously, etc. The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.’

ibid, pp. 275-6 Συνέχεια

Contempoaray education reform and a cult of ignorance

By Paul L. Thomas, Ed.D. | Originally Published at the Becoming Radical. March 31, 2013

Writing in Newsweek (1980, January 21) in the cusp of America’s shift into the Reagan era of conservatism that included the roots of the current education reform movement built on accountability, standards, and high-stakes testing, Isaac Asimov declared the U.S. “a cult of ignorance,” explaining:

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” Συνέχεια

The University in Ruins Bill Readings

It is no longer clear what role the University plays in society. The structure of the contemporary University is changing rapidly, and we have yet to understand what precisely these changes will mean. Is a new age dawning for the University, the renaissance of higher education under way? Or is the University in the twilight of its social function, the demise of higher education fast approaching?

We can answer such questions only if we look carefully at the different roles the University has played historically and then imagine how it might be possible to live, and to think, amid the ruins of the University. Tracing the roots of the modern American University in German philosophy and in the work of British thinkers such as Newman and Arnold, Bill Readings argues that historically the integrity of the modern University has been linked to the nation-state, which it has served by promoting and protecting the idea of a national culture. But now the nation-state is in decline, and national culture no longer needs to be either promoted or protected. Increasingly, universities are turning into transnational corporations, and the idea of culture is being replaced by the discourse of “excellence.” On the surface, this does not seem particularly pernicious.

The author cautions, however, that we should not embrace this techno-bureaucratic appeal too quickly. The new University of Excellence is a corporation driven by market forces, and, as such, is more interested in profit margins than in thought. Readings urges us to imagine how to think, without concession to corporate excellence or recourse to romantic nostalgia within an institution in ruins. The result is a passionate appeal for a new community of thinkers.

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