Increasingly, it seems, professors are waking up to the fact that their universities are no longer places of learning.
The latest to come to this realization is Dr. Ron Srigley, professor of classical political philosophy/religion/literature at the University of Prince Edward Island. He recently penned a lengthy essay on the subject for the Los Angeles Review of Books titled “Dear Parents: Everything You Need to Know About Your Son and Daughter’s University But Don’t.”
According to Srigley, many universities today are not actually providing students with an education. Instead, they’re merely offering “technological gimmicks and empty rhetoric about ‘student-centered learning.’” He admonishes parents:
“And the fact that universities, in the interest of increasing enrollments (= money) are willing to flatter you and your children so shamelessly about how wonderful and intelligent you all are should tell you that you are being played. This isn’t even political correctness and the therapeutic culture anymore; this is a straight-out scam.”
Here are some of his other lamentations about the modern university, gleaned from years of experience:
- “There is no real education anymore, but I still have to create the impression that education is happening. Students will therefore come to class, but they will not learn. Professors will give lectures, but they will not teach.”
- “Students do not read anymore.”
- “University administrators have discovered that a ‘successful’ classroom is only in exceptional circumstances positively correlated with the academic excellence of the person instructing it.”
- “The curriculum… is more a mirror than a book or other object of study.”
- On the pressure to inflate grades: “Over the past 14 years of teaching, my students’ grade point averages have steadily gone up while real student achievement has dropped precipitously.”
- “We no longer have ‘students’ – only ‘customers’… Anyone who challenges [students] will very likely be hauled before an appeal board and asked to explain how she has the temerity to tell them their papers are hastily compiled and undigested piles of drivel unacceptable as university-level work. The customer is always right.”
- “As university classrooms die, the administrative sector of the institution thrives and grows at a staggering rate.”
The reality, though, is that this professor is not telling most parents anything new. Nor, as he has come to realize, are students clueless about the “scam” of college. They know that it’s the hoop that’s been put before them to become eligible for most jobs, and they’re content that an entertaining campus social life has made jumping through it more tolerable. Perhaps they’re smarter than we think. It’s just that, apparently, those smarts aren’t the result of their college educations.
Dan is a former Senior Fellow at Intellectual Takeout. He received his B.A. in Philosophy and Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas (MN), and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. You can find his academic work at Academia.edu.