Failing Grades of the Modern University

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Dr. Victor Davis Hanson

Though known for his works on military history and political commentary, Victor Davis Hanson spent much of his career as a scholar teaching classical literature and history.  He is at heart an educator having spent years teaching in the California university system.  In this conference video he explains what is wrong with higher education in the United States  today.  Here are a few of his points:

  1. Universities were originally designed to be places of inductive learning and free inquiry.  Students were to study and find answers.  Today, the campus is a place for indoctrination.
  2. Universities used to be filled with a wide variety of views and eccentrics who asked questions and passed on skills to each generation.  Today, the university has become a place of almost monolithic thought with little intellectual diversity.  According to Dr. Hanson, the reason for this is that university leaders and professors see the university as a balance to the evils of religion, the family, patriarchy, and corporate greed.  Whatever, they need to do combat these evils is legitimate since the university is now a guardian for liberal progress.
  3. Universities used to be a place about learning from wise scholars, while today the university has become a top-down technocracy  with evermore administrators who are there to advocate rather than teach.  At a time when the salary of college presidents increased by 58%, part-time instructors only gained about 2% while doing the bulk of teaching.  Increasingly, more and more classes are taught by part-time faculty due to economic factors and the university bottom line.

When we factor in the raising cost of college with the increasingly frivolous and one-sided curriculum, no wonder people wonder if a college education is worth it.  Though Dr. Hanson does not offer an alternative to the demise of the college education system, he does do a good job critiquing the situation and helps us see what is going on behind the scenes at our institutions of “higher learning.”  He makes some great points with seriousness and humor, and clearly sketches the pathologies our students must address in day-to-day life on campus.  Watch his speech, you will be glad you did.

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