Friday, September 17, 2010

The Idea Of A University

Dance objects to this piece by Roger Scruton on The University these days. Scruton compares our current educational institutions to Newman's ideal and finds the former wanting. Dance focused on this passage in particular:
The middle-class father, preparing to meet tuition fees of $40,000 or more, and board and lodging on top of that, will naturally dwell on all the ways in which this represents a good investment. But when his daughter emerges three or four years later with a degree in Women’s Studies, the main outward sign of which is a well-honed grievance against men in general and the last one in particular, he is likely to question the wisdom of throwing away a third of a million dollars on such an outcome. Finding that his daughter’s ignorance of the classics is as great on leaving university as it was on entering it, that she has graduated from her teenage pop idols only to immerse herself in more “advanced” forms of rock and heavy metal, and that her attitude to career, marriage, childbearing, and all the other things that he had hoped for her is entirely negative, such a father is sure to regret the use of his money

Now, FLG has a bunch of problems here. First, as was indicated in a post earlier today, a middle-class father is pretty fucking unlikely to be disappointed that his daughter is ignorant of the classics. The most likely objection to his daughter's decision to major in Women's Studies would be, "What kind of job are you going to get with that?" Not "you'll never read Aeschylus!" Second, as somebody who was in school relatively recently, the idea that the faculty is a bunch of commie brain-washers licking their chops at the next crop of impressionable undergraduates is, well, fucking crazy talk. This isn't to say that there aren't crazy ideologues, nor argue that most professors are on the Left. There are and they are. But the vast, vast majority are into free and open inquiry. Sure, they probably recognize the flaws in a conservative argument faster than with ones they agree (and FLG has mentioned he believes this hurt his grades slightly but Miss Self-Important never saw that at all so take that all for what it is, FLG's opinion), but these aren't intellectual gypsies trying to take your children away.

So, to stop rambling, FLG agrees that there is a slight basis for the conservative critiques, but the arguments they put forth are closer to hyperbole than reality. FLG's attended three different colleges and only once has he encountered out and out bias. And the primary example he can name pretty much everybody knows is off his rocker.


Miss Self-Important said...

I think conservative critiques are correct that the left-domination of academia is a bad thing in the long (and short) run, but not for the direct input-output reason that liberal professors brainwash their students into believing liberal ideas.

Withywindle said...

You took a class with Ward Churchill?

MSI: Post on your blog!

FLG said...

Dropped a class...

The Ancient said...

I like Roger a lot. He's smart, funny, and deadly serious, and he knows more about more things than anyone else I can think of. In a better world, David Cameron would talk with him every damn day -- if only to get some inkling of what conservatism means.

But having recently sold his country house for $3 million to someone who was looking for a fourth house with a landing strip, Roger's really not in any position to imagine his way into the (largely unfurnished) modern middle-class mind.

(Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you.)

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