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September 07, 2019

What happened in the '70s? [KT]


A Formerly Hallowed University

What happened to universities in the '70s?

Victor Davis Hanson's masterfully written piece on the degradation of universities (with rare exceptions and bright spots) from icons to just cons comes to us via J.J. Sefton's Labor Day Morning Report. You should probably read the whole thing. Maybe share it. A few highlights:

The stage is set for degradation:

Most of us who came of age in the 1970s revered the university--even as it was still reeling from 1960s protests and beginning a process that resulted in its present chaos and disrepute.

Americans of the G.I. Bill-era first enshrined the idea of upward mobility through the bachelor's degree--the assumed gateway to career security--and the positive role of expanding colleges to grow the new suburban middle classes.

As an undergraduate and graduate student at hotbeds of prior 1960s protests at UC Santa Cruz and Stanford, I don't think I had a single conservative professor. Yet there were few faculty members, in Western Civilization, history, classics, or mandatory general education science and math classes, who either sought to indoctrinate us with their liberal world view or punished us for remaining conservative.

It was jarring to see old-fashioned demands for Ciceronian style in Latin prose composition classes occasionally coming from professors with jeans, long hair, and scandals, or to be introduced to artificially informal profs ("Oh, just call me Bob--no need for 'Doctor' or 'Professor'"), who nonetheless insisted on grounding ancient historical arguments with precise references to Greek quotations in classical authors.

VDH taught his own students, many from rural and minority backgrounds, from the classics. But this kind of teaching was becoming rare even before he retired.

He describes the transformation of administration from a part-time faculty duty to an expensive full time professional caste, and the exploding costs of college. Spartan elements of the college experience are just about gone.

The fall

What went wrong? The former students of the 1970s came into power and gradually began to reject the very code of conduct and training of those who taught them. And in turn they taught a new generation who for the first time had little first-hand knowledge of the great campus scholars and icons of the past.

Politics increasingly infected courses as competence eroded--logical for faculty and students since the former required far less of the latter. Across the curriculum, race, class, and gender studies found their way into art, music, literature, philosophy and history classes. Deduction now replaced the old empiricism. Grades inflated; the therapeutic triumphed over the tragic as how students felt was almost as important as what they learned and knew.

And that's not all that went wrong . . .

Other subheadings include:

The Woke Industry

Truth in Lending?

The Costs

and my favorite,

The Prescription

A few of his excellent ideas:

Mandatory exit standardized tests could calibrate whether students learned anything after spending or borrowing $250,000 for a degree. If a certain minimum SAT or ACT score is considered necessary for admittance (to calibrate the relative merit of various high school grade point averages), why would not such a similar exit exam be necessary for a bachelor's degree? The university double-checks the competency of high-school degrees, but not its own?
Universities should be held responsible for repaying a large percentage of the loans they issued and yet in advance knew well could not and would not be repaid. The government should get out of the campus loan insurance business.
Administrative service should become finite and thus recalibrated as a temporary release from teaching rather than as a full-time career--and paid on the same scale as faculty instruction. Most importantly, society at large needs to accept that the undergraduate population needs to be reduced by half and redirected to apprenticeships and vocational training.

And the final irony:

The chance of reform? Zero.

Indebted students, many with largely worthless degrees, and few employment opportunities sufficient to repay their loans, have become a loyal progressive constituency. How odd that an entire generation, in psychologically and financially suspended animation, is seen as useful by the very politicos who created this labyrinth of exploitation in the first place.

I think he has the big picture here.

What happened to rock music in the '70s?

This weekend, CBD posted a piece on rock legends dying off. Meanwhile, Rolling Stone, the magazine, is also sort of dying off. But yesterday I ran across one of their pieces which noted that vinyl is poised to out-sell CDs soon.



Anyway, I mostly missed out on the harder side of rock back in the day, and I was not real up to speed on some of the rest of rock. So I was totally flummoxed by Rolling Stone's commentary on their favorite forgotten rock music of the 1970s.


I think she sounds better later, here.


Paul McCartney's brother?

What happened to blues in the '70s?

Rolling Stone also did a piece on their favorite forgotten blues music of the 1970s. Probably safe to listen to this one. Might not be safe to sing along these days. Stay in your own lane.

Hope that your weekend turns out well. Got anything planned?

NOTE: This is the Thread before the Gardening Thread.

Serving your mid-day open thread needs

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