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Higher Education Emulates the National Football League

The “Rooney Rule” is the latest debasement of academia.

The controversial halftime show at Super Bowl 50 demonstrated–if any proof was needed–that the NFL is in the entertainment business. The football cartel’s ratings-conscious bean counters carefully assessed television demographics to maximize the spectacle’s appeal to the broadest possible audience–bread and circuses for the masses. It worked.  The musical trifecta of Coldplay, Beyoncé, and Bruno Mars was a cynical mishmash of genres that helped attract a viewing audience of nearly 112 million people to an otherwise boring game.  Professional football is big business, and it was fitting that the 50th iteration of the championship game was held in Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium, a taxpayer-funded facility that—with a price tag of $1.3 billion—constitutes a stupendous wealth transfer from taxpayers to a professional sports team (the San Francisco 49ers).

This is the business model the higher education cartel wishes to emulate.  Competition is restricted through the accreditation process, faculty cartels such as the American Association of University Professors, and trade associations such as the Association of American Colleges & Universities and the elite Association of American Universities.  Taxpayer subsidies are an indispensable component of higher education today.  State-funded colleges and universities receive direct taxpayer support, and nearly all institutions—public and private—depend on enormous amounts of federal student loans (about $103 billion last year), tens of billions of dollars in federal student grants each year, and $75.6 billion in federal grants and other benefits paid directly to schools annually.

Just as government largesse results in Taj Mahal facilities, inflated ticket prices and gargantuan salaries for coaches and players in the NFL, massive federal subsidies and restricted competition have led to Club Med-style campus amenities, sharp increases in college tuition nationwide, bloated administrative bureaucracies, and absurdly generous compensation packages for academic managers, many of whom earn seven figure salaries with princely perks.  The latest innovation, however, takes the cake: Diversity in hiring, NFL-style.

Where merit counts, the NFL is still ruthlessly competitive.   “Player combines” are an athletic free-for-all measuring candidates’ quickness and agility, with no consideration given to race, ethnicity, “gender identity,” or membership in an “underrepresented group.” On the NFL playing field, unlike the university classroom, there is no “affirmative action.”  Coaching and front office jobs are a different matter.  In 2003, in response to the controversial firings of black head coaches by two NFL teams, the NFL established the “Rooney Rule” (named after Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, who headed the league’s diversity committee), requiring NFL teams to interview minority candidates for all head coaching and senior football operation jobs.

Controversy is bad for business; potential boycotts make advertisers skittish.  Requiring teams to interview minority candidates before filling positions was a blatant form of preferential consideration, which produced the desired result of boosting minority hiring.  PR problem solved.  The heavy-handed Rooney Rule was designed to—and did—placate civil rights activists such as Johnnie Cochran (best known for successfully defending OJ Simpson) and avoid claims of discrimination.  At least there is an ample supply of qualified black coach candidates—many NFL players are African-American, and players often become coaches.

There are obviously differences between football and higher education.  One is a game based on (sometimes brutal) physical contact, and one is purely cerebral.  The potential ways to advance or defend the movement of a football are finite, whereas the capacity for improving humankind through education is usually considered to be limitless.  Higher education is supposed to be a meritocracy, in which the best scholars and classroom teachers compete for positions at the nation’s leading colleges and universities.  With the enormous resources entrusted to them, and the solemn responsibility of educating our youth—in addition to honoring the timeless academic ideal of pursuing knowledge—one would think that the higher education establishment would zealously defend the integrity of the hiring process.

If the goal is excellence, then individual merit, intellectual rigor, and scholarly productivity should be paramount.   If the goal is something else–achieving “diversity,” currying favor with the political correctness crowd, or establishing hiring quotas, for example—a school might adopt the equivalent of the Rooney Rule.  If, for whatever reason, a school sought attention for abandoning meritocracy, it might even publicize its decision.  And if a school cravenly sought progressive approbation, it might even issue a press release calling the new policy “its own ‘Rooney Rule’ to promote diversity in senior leadership positions.”  The University of Texas system, with 14 campuses and 217,000 students, has done just that.

At the initiative of UT Chancellor Bill McRaven, UT recently adopted a policy explicitly based on the NFL’s Rooney Rule, with the avowed goal of making the UT faculty, administrators, and campus leaders more representative of UT’s student body (the artificially-diverse nature of which is currently under challenge in the Fisher v. UT case).   The actual policy—undoubtedly scrubbed by UT’s lawyers—carefully recites that only “qualified” candidates should be interviewed, and that “all ultimate hiring decisions must comply with applicable federal and state laws.”

The big “wink” comes in the requirement that the pool of candidates to be interviewed for all covered positions must include “female, male and underrepresented group candidates,” the last term meaning any demographic classification other than white.  And, in a departure from the colorblindness that typically accompanies the application process, candidates must be allowed to “flag” their gender and “membership in an underrepresented group” as part of their application.  Any hiring manager who claims that a qualified “underrepresented group candidate” is not available for an interview must obtain prior written approval from a higher-ranking UT official based on “documentation to justify the exception.”  In other words, if a hiring decision maker at UT values his career, he will always interview finalists who are “members of an underrepresented group,” and hire white males at his peril.

Even if one accepts the NFL as an appropriate model for higher education to emulate, there is a serious problem with adopting the Rooney Rule for senior administrative positions in higher education—the applicant pool of qualified minorities in academia is much more limited than the ranks of professional football players wishing to become NFL coaches.  In higher education, and especially in STEM disciplines, there is an acute shortage of female, black, and Hispanic doctoral candidates.  Perhaps this explains why UT and other schools are scurrying around to establish “African and African Diaspora Studies” departments and programs such as the newly-created Center to Study Race and Democracy.  There is no shortage of minority scholars to staff such dubious disciplines.

The biggest difference between the NFL and the higher education establishment—and what makes UT’s adoption of the Rooney Rule a transparent pretense for hiring quotas—is that success in professional football is governed by an objective metric: which team wins more games.  Unless a team has the best-trained and most skilled players, coached by the craftiest experts, it will lose against a superior squad.  Academia has no corresponding criterion for success.  In fact, the highest-paid faculty members rarely teach, focusing on research and publications.  The administrative ranks grow, even as tuitions rise, graduation rates stagnate, and academic achievement declines.  (UT recently discontinued use of the Collegiate Learning Assessment, ostensibly due to the $92,000 annual cost, but more likely because UT’s placement in the bottom quartile was an embarrassment.)  Higher education adamantly resists accountability, something fans would never stand for in the NFL.  It is ironic that the public takes performance more seriously in football than in lavishly-funded colleges and universities.

If higher education wants to mimic the NFL, we should insist on performance-based rankings—and even an academic Super Bowl—for universities.

Reader Discussion

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on February 12, 2016 at 09:21:40 am

Mark--

Admiral Mike Ratliff many years ago now offered advice for freshman over at ISI. His argument was simple, and I thought profound. He said that freshmen have 40 chances to change their lives. The reason you go to university is to walk out four years later a different, and better person. That transformation, he argued, woukd take place in the classes you take. Most students take 40 of them. Forty chances; they go by quickly. Make them count. Do not waste them.

He urged freshmen to think beyond acquisition of job skills. The transformation you are after is deeper than acquiring a license, or a certification, that you possess the ability to perform some basic set of pre-professional chores. Those are not bad things, but a university education that ends there is a missed opportunity. If you go in determinedly fixed on pre-professional education as your goal, you tend to treat classes that offer you the opportunity for moral and civic reflection as unimportant. It is entirely possible to get a pre-professional education and wind up not having thought about ethical, moral, and civic matters much at all.

Ratliff argued for the kind of education students get from studying with people like Peter Lawler or Ken Masugi. It is the kind of thing I aspire to inspire in my own students, if only perhaps in my most optimistic moments.

But here is the rub. How can you, or I, possibly know that we have succeeded? It was evident to me only years later, only after a process of slow maturation, and adult reflection, which professors shaped my character and which did not. The way to know whether my classes matter, are successful in the way I hope they are successful, whether I inspire the kind of transformations I hope I do, is possible only years later, long after students pass on from their encounter with me. Track down my students after they have been out in the world for six or seven or ten or twelve years, and ask them. Talk to them about what they learned, what transformed them, what helped them become self-governing people. Then maybe you can assess my effectiveness at doing what I take to be my job.

If we follow the kind of objectives bases learning assessment strategies for which you seem to be advocating, you wind up focussing on those things that are easily measured. And far too often those things are poor surrogates from what we are really after. The best classes provoke learning that transcends the immediate, narrow themes of any particular course. That is the whole point, at least if you approach teaching the way I suspect transformational instructors like Lawler do.

So sure--make Peter be accountable for measurable, immediate outcomes, and assess his merit as an instructor by those kinds of metrics. That will satisfy your demand for accountability, but at best it will utterly miss the actual value of his courses. At worst, it will create perverse incentives for instructors, such that classes like those I suspect he teaches become even more rare than they now already are.

All best wishes,
Kevin

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Kevin R. Hardwick
on February 12, 2016 at 12:23:03 pm

So, Kevin, how do we determine if higher education is doing its job? My advocacy of metrics was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, to illustrate the differences between universities and the NFL. Without some basis of assessing performance, higher education will continue to be an increasingly-expensive place for young people to party during an extended adolescence, and for over-paid "academics" to promote political correctness at taxpayer expense. We need to restore rigor, AND accountability.

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Mark Pulliam
on February 12, 2016 at 12:31:50 pm

Kevin:

Agreed.

"But here is the rub. How can you, or I, possibly know that we have succeeded?"

It is, however, perhaps, more difficult to determine a successful academic (and football - more later) mentoring than it is to determine a failed one. It is quite true that the lessons provided to one in his / her youth may not be incorporated, or at least fully incorporated, until later life experiences provide the distance and perspective, and quite simply the successes and failures endured or enjoyed over time, to first recognize and later appreciate those lessons.

Yet, it may be somewhat more readily discernible when those lessons have failed to take even subconscious root in some number of individuals. And while it is always dangerous to make predictions regarding individual human beings, still it may be said that the present behavior of some will serve as a viable indicator of future behavior / attitude. This is true both in the technical sense of learning and in the area of character.

Would one argue (at least with any strong sense of conviction) that those on the modern campus who parade their victimization(s), many of which are predicated upon certain *microaggressions*, around the campus square, seeking "safe spaces," free from any opinion adverse to their own rather unique conception of themselves and the odd world which they choose to inhabit (create?) and demand that the world change to accommodate them, that these individuals are likely to a) have listened, b) incorporated (even on a latent basis) and c) will prove to be productive citizens able to deploy, in a fair and mature manner, the lessons of an academic experience?

I suspect not - while admitting that it is possible.
And from this can we not draw some conclusions regarding the nature / success of the academic enterprise to which they have been subjected?

Let us turn to the NFL for a moment. I am an avid fan of the NFL - (GO SEAHAWKS!!!) - and I have had occasion to hear many of these young men speak on a variety of topics. There is one theme that is common to many of them and it is, in their own minds and experiences, a reflection of their coaches. Those who have been successful in the game are those who have learned the technical art of their craft BUT they have ALSO learned from their coaches (and I quote) "How to be a better man, a better husband and a better father." It is not uncommon to see Hall of Fame NFL Players going back to their former coaches after 30 years and acknowledging the instrumental role that the coach played in their maturation.

Yet, not all coaches are as effective, either technically (Damn Pete Carroll for a pass on the 1 yard line) or educationally; nor are all athletes able or willing to accept the mentoring (not unlike students, I would suppose). And it is clear when this mentoring fails. Only look to recent headlines (sports pages, of course) and you have the example of Cam Newton. In brief, a poorer example of sportsmanship has not been seen in the NFL quarterback position since Ryan Leaf.
Yet, one need only look to players like Russell Wilson, Jeff Saturday, etc etc to see how many of these young men are exceptionally mature and responsible citizens. Many non fans would be surprised to see just how many of these athletes are simply "upstanding fellows."

Can we not then attempt to make some judgement as to which coaches are successful, both technically and inspirationally? I think that we can - and I think that we can do so for educators as well. I should also point out that often times the most mature emotionally / civically are also the most technically sound.

In academia, one cannot understand / be proficient in higher math without first learning the multiplication tables.
So technical proficiency is important as is the educators ability to impart that knowledge. So too, one must learn history, political theory, philosophy, etc in order to understand law, tradition and proper civic association.
To the extent that we no longer teach the above subjects, can it be said that we are failures - that the academy is failing!!
I would contend, and I believe that you do as well (based upon your fine comments over time and the salutary effect your advice has had upon my own understandings) that it is essential to understand where we came from, why we became what we are in order to apprehend where a) we MAY be going and b) where, perhaps, we OUGHT to be going.

An institution that instead caters to the "needy narcissism" of the few cannot, to my mind, said to be performing the mission for which it was established and endowed with the peoples funds.

And yet, I think that in large measure, Mr. Pulliam is directing his comments to the educational bureaucracy - which directs, supports or engenders this modern version of Swift's cross eyed academic. More so than teachers, I suspect that failure ought to be laid at their feet - not at someone like yourself.

In some ways academia ought to be like the NFL where failure is met with dismissal, where results are assessed and considered - academia ought not to adopt this particular NFL mechanism - the Rooney rule ain't gunna cut it in the Ivory Tower.

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gabe
on February 12, 2016 at 14:45:05 pm

[…] SURE, THAT’S A PROVEN FORMULA FOR PREVENTING BAD BEHAVIOR: University Of Texas Wants To Run Itself Like the NFL. […]

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Image of Instapundit » Blog Archive » SURE, THAT’S A PROVEN FORMULA FOR PREVENTING BAD BEHAVIOR: University Of Texas Wants To Run Itself …
Instapundit » Blog Archive » SURE, THAT’S A PROVEN FORMULA FOR PREVENTING BAD BEHAVIOR: University Of Texas Wants To Run Itself …
on February 12, 2016 at 15:35:48 pm

Mark, Gabe--

There are multiple levels of conversation in play.

One is the defense of what the Romans called humanitas and civitas, as worthy goals of higher education. That was what I took Admiral Ratliff to be advocating, and it is what I infer to inform the practice of the great teachers whose thinking I so much admire here--people like Lawler, Masugi, and Weiner.

I doubt any of us actively opposes that kind of teaching, or wishes to make it even less common than it already is. It is not our collective good will that worries me, but rather the consequences of the actions we take in trying to achieve the goods we pursue. If one of the consequences of acting is to minimize the potential for younge faculty to become the next generation of Lawlers, Masugis, and Weiners, I take that to be a bad thing, even if it is the result of the best of intentions.

I have, in other words, a healthy respect for unintended consequences. The kind of pedagogical engineering that informs the movement within the modern academy for greater accountability strikes me as fraught with unintended consequences. It emanates from good intentions. Who, after all, is opposed to accountability? But this is the kind of thinking that brought us the kinds of reforms in k-12 education that have gutted civitas and humanitas content in states like Virginia. These reforms grow out of the effort to focus teaching on things that can be measured easily. Assessment based pedagogy sounds good in the ideal, but can be pernicious in practice. So this is a second level of conversation. Do we really want more of those kinds of incentives shaping the choices of those young faculty who might, in time, be Lawlers and Masugis and Weiners?

Effective teaching is, it turns out, hard to measure. I know who the good teachers are at my university largely by seeing their students among my advisees, and by watching their intellectual and moral growth over time. Sadly, the quality of syllabi, or the performative aspects of teaching (eg., the dynamism of their class room presence) are at best rough indicators. The performance of students after fifteen weeks of learning, on multiple-guess exams, is at best a poor indicator, especially if the seeds one plants take years to germinate. Show me how one can measure moral, civil, and intellectual growth reliably, and I am all for accountability. The best approach I have seen is to ask seasoned, experienced educators to take it seriously, and apply holistic, mostly qualitative judgment. There are obvious problems with that, and its not the kind of approach the quantitative-focused engineers like very much.

Until then, teaching is an act of faith. I do not think I will ever really know if I have been effective until many years have passed. Even then, I do not think I will ever know if my successes outweigh my failures. That's the measure of human frailty, and it is something that no amount of fine-tuned engineering measurement will ever capture.

All best wishes,
Kevin

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Kevin R. Hardwick
on February 12, 2016 at 16:13:52 pm

Kevin:

In fact, I do agree with you. Perhaps, my poor phrasing in my earlier post and / or my shorthand may have lead you to believe that i was advocating for a curriculum of purely measurable subject matter. I emphatically do not endorse such a course of instruction while, of course, recognizing that such subject matter is an essential foundation for both technical and moral education.
Indeed, my point was to highlight two things:
1) That while it is true that you may not be able to "read' success in a student until many years later and the student him/herself may not even be aware of it ( as was the case with my years studying under Ken Masugi), it is possible to see when a particular educational curriculum or institution may be failing to properly imbue a student with the requisite knowledge for a healthy civic life.
2) That this failure is, in large measure, attributable to the absence of what we used to call a core curriculum consisting of the great works of history, political philosophy, philosophy proper, etc. Gender / ethnic / inequality studies are a poor substitute for the wealth of moral, cultural and intellectual richness that may be derived from even a cursory survey of tradition. With this as a base, it is remarkable what one may *discover* even many years later as experience forms and reshapes us.

You are correct that there are many unintended consequences of good intentions and conservatives are right to criticize those who proceed unmindful of the end result of particular practice of policy preferences. You are also correct that an overemphasis on "measurable' academics is fraught with danger. Shall we develop a new breed of disciples of Machiavelli, concerned first and foremost (solely, perhaps) with technique? In some sense, and in view of our current election "nonsense" this has become evident in the character of our candidates for the highest office in the land.
I would respond that we should neither seek this NOR allow it. Rather, I would prefer to see a re-emphasis on the study of great books and thinkers of history.
I think, in this we are agreed. To the extent that a university provides such pedagogical instruction in these disciplines, they may be said to be making an earnest effort to provide our young with the proper tools for a healthy civic life. To the extent that they do not do so, they should be held accountable.
Where now is Plato's chorus of elder citizens? How then do we communicate the meaning of tradition?
How then do we make The Laws? - except based upon the needy narcissism of a "mal-educated" impatient and uninformed gaggle of self-made victims?
No, let us get back to the Classics as a base for both civic and self-understanding.

Anyway, that is my take. Apologies, if my earlier shorthand was unclear.

take care
gabe

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gabe
on February 12, 2016 at 16:38:42 pm

oops, I forgot this:

It seems to me that the Elder Chorus, in this instance many in the academy, has willingly, even gleefully, abandoned its place on stage and rushed headlong to join the Children's Chorus.
And we are the worse for it; and it is for this that they should be held accountable.

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gabe
on February 12, 2016 at 17:05:33 pm

Gabe--

One last thought! (Famous last words!):

No question that university staffs are bloated with bureaucrats. At my university, instructional faculty comprise right about one out of every three employees. Some of that increase is driven by federal compliance, much of it by the perecived need to cater to students.

Still, salaries are not insane. Out of 2900 employees, about 210 make more than $100,000. Of those, about 30 represent full time instructors in the college of business, and another significant, similar number are engineers of various sorts. Another fifteen or so are coaches--who as a group are the highest paid employees of the university. Median salary overall is $53,000. Mean salary is $57,000. So the distribution is slightly skewed at the top, but not hugely so. Most faculty make the median salary or better--so most of the people making less than $53000 are support staff. Median faculty salary is about $73000.

So there really is administrative bloat, but its not on the scale I imagined it would be when I first looked in to it. A lot of the administrators are also teaching faculty, and they do get substantial increases to salary. To put this in perspective, out of 33 faculty housed in my department, four make more than $100,000--a former chair, an assistant to the President, and two deans. Three others received less substantial pay increments for taking on extra administrative duties. Those proportions hold, very roughly, across the university--so that means maybe 180 faculty-administrators out of 900 faculty. Some of those people perform necessary work, and thus should not be considered "bloat." There is unnecessary overhead here, but having some insight into how things work in medium-size private corporate bureacracies, I am not persuaded university bloat is all that much worse than middle-management corporate bloat in similar scale private enterprise.

Tuition for in-state students is $5400, but the university also charges $4200 in mandatory "fees." About 30% of those fee monies goes to subsidize athletics, of which much goes to pay for basketball and football. So the average student pays something like $1300 per year, whether or not they actually go to games. It is thus the sports program that is to my eye the single largest driver of unnecessary student costs.

I have no idea how my university compares to others. But it is awfully easy to throw out broad generalizations without backing them up with numbers. I could certainly cherry pick anecdotal horror stories from my university, but on the whole, things do not seem to be quite so awful as I had inferred from all the anxious buzz and commentary.

All best,
Kevin

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Kevin R. Hardwick
on February 12, 2016 at 17:10:13 pm

And the Rooney Rule is illegal:

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/182178/rooney-rule-illegal-and-so-expanding-it-roger-clegg

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Roger Clegg, Center for Equal Opportunity
on February 12, 2016 at 17:14:18 pm

Gabe--

You know, of course, that we are pulling in the same direction. Nor do I think there is any real disagreement between our perspective and Mark's argument above.

Mark did not intend to advocate for any particular movement in University teaching assessment. But that said, a movement of the kind I allude to above most definitely exists. It is destructive to the kind of education you and I both value. There are plenty of other forces driving that kind of education into the ground. My point here, really, boils down to suggesting that the demand for accountability, at least as actually discussed and implemented in higher university circles, is one of them.

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Kevin R. Hardwick
on February 12, 2016 at 17:40:10 pm

Yep, and Peter Lawler has had some great essays on the topic over at POMOCON!!!

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gabe
on February 12, 2016 at 20:26:55 pm

Mark--

Accountability is not a bad thing. But the way it is applied, in practice, matters a great deal. I have watched it unfold at my university over the last two decades in ways that strike me as fraught with danger for the kind of education I value, and to which I have striven to mold my career. There are academic journals in "higher education assessment." One can earn Ph.D.s in it. There is a whole industry behind it, and powerful political, institutional, and corporate backing. It has captured the mood of the moment--people who practice "higher education administration" (one can earn ED.D.s in that, too) endorse it. Look into it, please? It gives me pause; it strikes me as at least possible it will give you pause too.

Well wishes,
Kevin

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Kevin R. Hardwick
on February 12, 2016 at 21:06:46 pm

Kevin,

I am in general agreement with your points, here and below. But allow me to be the Devil's advocate for a moment. If it is true that it is difficult to measure the quality of teaching, wouldn't this apply not only to graduates of college, but to applicants as well? How does the admissions committee determine that the pre-college preparation of an applicant is adequate, or better than another? Does it give preference to the graduates of hoity-toity snobatoriums with high SAT scores, or is there some other metric that assesses not only potential, but how well the applicant's high school teachers did their job? Is this last consideration even relevant to the admissions process? If so. how best to assess it?

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z9z99
on February 12, 2016 at 21:32:47 pm

What a fascinating exchange Mark Pulliam has instigated.

I will tread lightly, since I once before probably stepped a little out of bounds on the subject of students and classes.

It seems that what we are observing from various perspective points are the functions of post secondary "education," and its related facilities. Particular attention is given to public facilities in the form of "Universities."

Not much as been written here about the basic reason for the existence of the facilities; the students, and the changes that have occurred in that student raw material over the past 60 or so years. There are probably considerable differences in the levels of maturity, preliminary preparation and development, as well as motivation (particularly objective motivation) for actual learning as differentiated from completion of prescribed "coursework."

In the dialogues above, it seems natural to observe the commentary focused on "teaching," without much reference to "learning" motivations and activities. The change in maturity patterns may have something to do with the latter.

The very concept of "evaluating teachers" may be indicative of a transition (particularly in public universities) from emphasis on learning to more emphasis on teaching. The changes in orientation and results (decline?) of secondary education has probably contributed to some of the changes in function of public postsecondary facilities. In many cases the "learning" (rather than being taught) phase is deferred into graduate-level studies.

I would guess that the best of Kevin's results are those who would say, "I learned a lot in his courses," as compared to those less-developed who might say of another professor: "he taught me a lot."

Although I did lecture on Corporate Finance at Virginia, I have no experience as part of the postsecondary or graduate system.

So, much of the quote diminution" of the public postsecondary systems may be attributable to the development of responses requiring more "teaching," and deferring learning.

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R Richard Schweitzer
on February 13, 2016 at 10:50:38 am

Richard:

"In many cases the “learning” (rather than being taught) phase is deferred into graduate-level studies."

So, effectively we have now made university the equivalent of the high school of more than a century ago. As high school came to be viewed as essential to those generations that previously managed to get by with only grade school educations, so too, today, university is now "required."

The difference, one may point out, is that high school was usually free. Now, one must take on considerable debt in order to complete the "new high school."

And like the high school of my day, the student *expects* to be taught - he is neither prepared nor willing to "learn."

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gabe
on February 13, 2016 at 16:22:43 pm

Gabe (and Mark?),

Gabe seems to have put his finger on the objective of Mark's discourses (given prior posts on, and his involvements in the affairs of, UT). Big as Texas is, it is a microcosm of the sets of issues in "public" – "education" (the "education "systems").

Everything that is "public" seems to be, or seems to become, politically directed – or at least politically influenced if not politically determined.

"It seems that what we are observing from various perspective points are THE FUNCTIONS of post secondary “education,” AND its related FACILITIES. Particular attention is given to public facilities in the form of “Universities.” RRS [above, emphasis added]

So, perhaps we must also consider that there is a POLITICAL FUNCTION of the facilities for public postsecondary "education." That function is probably appended to, or an extension of, the political functions that have given rise to "educational processing" through prescribed course completions. The public is "provided with" politically directed sets of processes as "services," in particular formats for political objectives.

Due, probably to, fiscal symbiosis , the response at the operating academic levels becomes much the same as it has been at the primary and secondary levels of the "educational system" – to continue providing "processing" for a population (students) acculturated to processing and the provision of "services."

It is also possible that the particular forms of acculturation of the students in public systems have carried the effects of the political functions in public facilities over into private institutions for postsecondary education. Those conditions have not yet been observed in the more prominent private secondary education facilities.

But what of that acculturation?

"And like the high school of my day, the student *expects* to be taught – he is neither prepared nor willing to “learn.” G

From what objectives of what political functions did those expectations develop?
Did parents abdicate? Did what was expected of students change? Did students simply change in response to what was expected of them? And, of course, that quotation may be a little too broad and somewhat unfair.

They may be fewer in number, but broader in scope. The "learners" of the past half of the last century have made enormous contributions in reducing areas of ignorance, falsifying the false without pretense of achieving THE truth. It's all been done against tremendous odds and actual opposition from the mediocre.

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R Richard Schweitzer
on February 13, 2016 at 21:53:13 pm

Richard--

Not all change is bad. I am fairly pessimistic, mind you. I think, on the whole, we are moving in a pretty wrong direction. But still, its not all bad.

I grew up with the end of the Viet Nam war. The idealistic students I knew were on the whole narcisstic . They talked a good game about service to something greater than themselves, all the while cynically building their resumes. There were ample opportunities for volunteering, and everyone celebrated them, but few actually stepped up. Let someone else actually do the hard dirty work.

This generation, at least at my university, is better than mine. These kids volunteer their time. There are 19,000 students at my university, and 850 of them volunteer actively for Big Brothers, Big Sisters. That's just one of several dozen similar organizations for which students, in large numbers, volunteer their time. I have no special insight into the content of these young person's souls, but from what I can tell, they are mostly genuine, doing this for the right reasons.

This too is learned behavior, acculuration. Its admirable. And--something to celebrate--the vast majority of it is privately organized, by non-profit corporations or by churches.

I do not want to sound all that pollyannish, but it is not all bad.

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Kevin R. Hardwick
on February 13, 2016 at 22:26:53 pm

Great comments, everyone. Thank you all.

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Image of Mark Pulliam
Mark Pulliam
on February 25, 2016 at 06:17:53 am

[…] The answer is that both have become obsessed with “diversity.” So argues Texas attorney Mark Pulliam in this sharp essay. […]

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Image of What Do the NFL and American Higher Ed Have in Common? – Alberto Acereda
What Do the NFL and American Higher Ed Have in Common? – Alberto Acereda
on February 26, 2016 at 07:05:06 am

[…] The answer is that both have become obsessed with “diversity.” So argues Texas attorney Mark Pulliam in this sharp essay. […]

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Image of Alberto Acereda | Senior Director of Business Development
Alberto Acereda | Senior Director of Business Development

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