Thursday, April 21, 2011

Writing Teachers: Still Crazy After All These Years

An interesting article by Mary Grabar. Here's the opening paragraph, and the rest is well worth the read:

After spending four depressing days this month at a meeting of 3,000 writing teachers in Atlanta, I can tell you that their parent group, the Conference on College Composition and Communication, is not really interested  in teaching students to write and communicate clearly.  The group’s agenda, clear to me after sampling as many of the meeting’s 500 panels as I could, is devoted to disparaging grammar, logic, reason, evidence and fairness as instruments of white oppression. They believe rules of grammar discriminate against “marginalized” groups and restrict self-expression.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Links of Interest

Two articles well worth reading in full. They are both about education, but from different angles.

The Management Myth:
During the seven years that I worked as a management consultant, I spent a lot of time trying to look older than I was. I became pretty good at furrowing my brow and putting on somber expressions. Those who saw through my disguise assumed I made up for my youth with a fabulous education in management. They were wrong about that. I don’t have an M.B.A. I have a doctoral degree in philosophy—nineteenth-century German philosophy, to be precise. Before I took a job telling managers of large corporations things that they arguably should have known already, my work experience was limited to part-time gigs tutoring surly undergraduates in the ways of Hegel and Nietzsche and to a handful of summer jobs, mostly in the less appetizing ends of the fast-food industry.

The strange thing about my utter lack of education in management was that it didn’t seem to matter. As a principal and founding partner of a consulting firm that eventually grew to 600 employees, I interviewed, hired, and worked alongside hundreds of business-school graduates, and the impression I formed of the M.B.A. experience was that it involved taking two years out of your life and going deeply into debt, all for the sake of learning how to keep a straight face while using phrases like “out-of-the-box thinking,” “win-win situation,” and “core competencies.” When it came to picking teammates, I generally held out higher hopes for those individuals who had used their university years to learn about something other than business administration.

Gales of Creative Instruction:
The electron cloud is already taking us from new Oxford back to old Oxford. After all, how can the old inconvenient and expensive system survive the onslaught of free?
I can move to England, pay the non-subsidized foreigner tuition rates, rise early, go to class and take my chances on an Oxford professor. Or I can sit in my pajamas and have an Oxford prof of my choice teach me about critical thinking or the literary legacy of J.R.R. Tolkien. I can avoid the same old green gunk or socialist screeds.

Want to learn more about the Austrian School of Economics from which Dr. Schumpeter derived his doctrine of creative destruction? Here’s a free course. Want to read Adam Smith’s comments about education and virtually every other topic under the sun, here’s a free searchable e-book,  and here’s a free version for your Kindle. Feel you need some help understanding Smith? Here’s a podcast course from George Mason University’s econ talk.

Looking for a Schumpeterian take on current economic events? Try Intelligent Investing With Steve Forbes. If you like your free market economic commentary in daily doses, I find the Cato Institute’s daily podcast quite refreshing. For a little more depth, here’s their weekly video.