Thursday, July 17, 2014

A major source of problems on campus

Resolved: That treating college students as children rather than adults is the cause of many significant problems in contemporary higher education.

Over the past three decades student freedom and autonomy has been steadily eroded, as an administrative superstructure has steadily increased in size and power.

This reduction of freedom and expansion of administration has been justified in terms of alleviating campus social pathologies, but problems associated with alcohol and drug use, sexual assault, cheating and poor academic performance, student disengagement and dissatisfaction have, at best, remained unchanged.

The evolution of campuses from self-governing, non-coercive intellectual communities towards regimented "complete and austere institutions" has also been correlated with a massive increase in costs.

There is no evidence that these increased costs or the increased surveillance and regulation of student life have generated higher intellectual achievement or greater student satisfaction. In fact, the reverse appears to be true.

Therefore: the experiment of increasing the size and power of the administrative apparatus and reducing the freedom of students to organize and govern themselves has failed to produce its promised results. Current problems will not be solved by making colleges more like high schools, but instead by respecting students as adults with all the freedom and responsibility that should attend that status.


Marcel R. B├╝lles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Cowan said...

I think of this as fundamentally a return to the pre-1960's situation, but much less intensely so. I don't, for example, expect to see a return to sex-segregated dorms and in loco parentis any time soon. Academic politics alternate between a party of innovation and a party of arrested innovation; the latter has been dominant for some time now.

The Catacomb Catechumen said...

Hi Dr Drout, I've just recently become familiar with your work via Tolkien studies. And I was able to listen to one of your lectures on youtube, which I really enjoyed. Thats how I stumbled across your blog here. But I dont see a widget or anything which allows me to "Follow" your blog. I was wondering if you could add a widget through your dash board to allow viewers to follow you more easily. Thank you! Im excited to read your articles and your books. do you have any of your lectures available?

John C said...

It isn't just your campus: it is general infantilization of people in the west eg... The idea is to supress autonomy.

Eddie said...

Dr. Drout,

Hi, there. My name is Brian. I live in Texas, and I taught high school English for nearly 6 years before switching over to a career in business for several reasons, not least of which was the gradual increase in stress and decrease in sanity caused by the "shrinkening" gyre that is the public U.S. (or at least Texas) education system.

Sorry for the wordy sentence and awkwardly modified allusion. I really just wanted to drop you a line and thank you for renewing my interest in the language. In becoming disillusioned with my career, I lost some of my love for the content I was trying to pass on to the students (for whom, incidentally, my love was never lost).

I'd become very interested in poetry and linguistics and prided myself on being the chief grammarian at the school, but I really could have used your Way With Words course to put me in my place. At least I've found it now, and it has rekindled something in me. I'm about to start your poetry course, and, though I'm a little sad to be nearing the end of the series, I'm excited about my first foray into the form in several years. Maybe I'll even start writing some of it again.

Sorry to wall-of-text your blog. I just wanted to thank you for the work you do. Like Fr Aidan Hix, O.S.C., I'm eager to read more of your work and continue to experience The Drout Way and learn more Wacky Drout Theory.

Your student,

Brian B
Dallas, TX

Anonymous said...

Great post.

As a non academic I find the recent direction of Higher Education to be self-defeating at best and self destructive at worst.

The fundamental issue is Government "support" of Higher Education which simply inflates prices.

We have a generation of 'college debt slaves' unable to discharge their debt while Administration salaries soar to professional athlete levels.

Should a College President be paid as much as a baseball All-Star? No way. We got lots of Academic talent and very few baseball All Stars.

If 25% of colleges financially fail in the next decade it will be a good thing.