[New-Poetry] "The Crisis of the Humanities Officially Arrives"
junction at earthlink.net
Sat Oct 16 10:43:43 EDT 2010
Subsidies of one kind or another are a major
revenue stream for virtually all universities
everywhere, whether by government, church,
individual donors or industry. But I'm not sure
what you're getting at, because I'm not sure what
you mean by "value." Do you mean that
universities and colleges should be trade
schools? Because that's a lot of what's been
happening for the past forty-odd years, and
certainly what the president of SUNY-Albany
thinks should happen. Outside money has
increasingly flowed towards "useful" subjects,
and students, who supply the other major revenue
stream, have increasingly gravitated towards
"useful" degrees, with less and less resistance
from their schools. Although the picture is made
more confusing by the existence of departments
that attract other students and have little value
in the non-academic job market or, compared to
traditional disciplines, as education.
I was very lucky to have gone to Columbia, where
one gets to choose almost no courses for the
first two years because the required courses,
taught by top scholars in the various fields (I
had Donald Keene for the Japanese section of
Oriental Civ, for example) fill almost all one's hours.
I do agree with you wholeheartedly about degree
as job certification. It seems never to end. A
friend of mine who has been a concert pianist for
almost forty years has been looking at jobs
teaching piano in music departments, which is why
I've become aware that doctorates in piano have
become an essential piece of paper.
But at the level of the undergraduate degree,
part of the issue is that in the US the degree
became an instrument of upward mobility during an
unusually socially fluid period under the GI
Bill. The democratization of education was a good
thing, I think, but it had unintended
consequences, largely because of the collapse of
secondary education in most of the country. So we
have a situation in which an often semi-literate
population goes to college for social and job
certification, and also to provide the very basic
skills (which used to be taught in high school)
that employers look for in young workers.
At 07:24 AM 10/16/2010, you wrote:
> I would say socialism is as much at fault as
> capitalism--the government essentially makes
> people pay for college degrees (while
> socialistically subsidizing colleges, and
> giving gov't-certified ones a monopoly) by
> making almost every well-paying job require
> one--and the kids take courses they like in
> order to get a degree without worrying about
> learning anything of value because in our
> world, credentials count, abilities don't.
>New-Poetry mailing list
>New-Poetry at wiz.cath.vt.edu
New from Chax Press: Mark Weiss, As Landscape.
$16. Order from http://www.chax.org/poets/weiss.htm
"What a beautiful set of circumstances! What a
lovely concatenation of particulars. Here is the
poet alive in every sense of the word, and
through every one of his senses. Instead of
missing a beat or a part, Weiss fragments are
like Chekhovs short storiesthe more that gets
left out, the more they seem to contain
hear echoes from all the various
ancestors...[but] the voice, at its center, its
core, is pure Mark Weiss. His use of the fragment
is both elegant and bafflingly clear, a pure
[it] opens a window, not only
into a mind, but a person, a personality, this
human figure at the emotional center of the poem."
M.G. Stephens, in Jacket.
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