Colleges are Becoming Summer Camps with Libraries

Is higher education improving or going down hill?

Interview with: Barry Schwartz (Swarthmore)

Q4Colleges.com exclusive interview with Barry Schwartz.

We spoke with Barry Schwartz, who is a Professor at Swarthmore College, author of The Paradox of Choice and Practical Wisdom, and frequent TED speaker.

Q4Colleges: Barry, thank you for taking the time to talk with us. I would like to use Q4Colleges as a way of getting higher education back on track on track with regard to the narrative. The questions I had when taking my kids around visiting colleges were, “Who is running these places?” “What are these people like?” “What are they trying to do?” Continue reading “Colleges are Becoming Summer Camps with Libraries”

The G-Rant: Please Stop Being Evil and Incompetent

Are colleges doing research the right way?

By Jesse Schell (Carnegie Mellon)

This is a transcript of a presentation by Jesse on March 6, 2012 at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco. It was part of a panel entitled Game Educators Rant.

Hi everybody. I have a special kind of rant today.

It is directed to a certain segment of the audience. I realize a number of you are here by mistake. There’s a certain percentage of the audience who wandered in here mistakenly reading the session title as “Game Educator Grants.” So this I dedicate to you. We’ll call it my G-Rant. Continue reading “The G-Rant: Please Stop Being Evil and Incompetent”

Bring Back Meals Together NOW.

How can students and faculty improve their interaction?

by Gwendolyn Toth (Montclair State)

When I attended college in the 1970s, it was clear that we were there to learn from our brilliant professors. However, as I look back with 35 years hindsight, I realize that learning occurred not only in the classroom, the laboratory, the rehearsal hall, the dorm rooms, the rec rooms, and late-night bars (we could drink in those days).

We also learned in the dining hall.

Over food we met new friends with new points of view. Discussions started in late-morning classes continued at lunch with both students and teachers.

We all ate together every day.

Fast forward to 2012. Continue reading “Bring Back Meals Together NOW.”

The Problem with Talking about Intellectual Virtues

What should colleges teach?

By: Brooke Allen (Q4Colleges.com)

The problem with talking about Intellectual Virtues is that it can give intellectuals the feeling they are virtuous when they are just talking.

Colleges might not think of themselves as being in the business of teaching virtues (like honesty, courage, fairness, wisdom, and love of the truth) but the fact is they can reinforce or squash good instincts. For example, a student I know wrote a college admissions essay that began with a graphic description of the earth under attack by aliens when he, as super-hero, arrived to save the day. His essay concluded by saying he wanted to go to college to save the world.

Three years into college I introduced the student to the Heroic Imagination Project (www.HeroicImagination.org). Its founder, Dr. Phillip Zimbardo, wrote to the student asking how they might work together to change the world. The student wrote to me, “I’d rather not change the course of history than risk changing it for the worse.” I can not tell you how imagined courage become timidity but I can tell you when and where it happened.

Question: How can the people at colleges do a better job teaching courage? Continue reading “The Problem with Talking about Intellectual Virtues”

Every Monograph a Movie

Are students learning the best way?

by Marshall T. Poe (University of Iowa)

Although we often forget it, reading is a profoundly unnatural act. We were not evolved to read. Eyes are for seeing, ears are for hearing, but we have nothing specifically designed for reading. That makes reading difficult in two ways. First, it’s hard to learn to read, largely because you have to rewire your brain to do it. That takes a lot of time and effort, so much so that some people never learn to read well at all. Second, even if you have learned to read well, it’s often not physically pleasurable. Natural selection gave us psychological reward systems that favor listening and watching. We generally like to listen and watch regardless of what we are listening to or looking at. In short, we were built to enjoy listening and watching more than reading. The proof of that is manifest. Over the Continue reading “Every Monograph a Movie”

Is Cheating by Colleges Just Another Clever Marketing Ploy?

Should “caveat emptor” be the operative philosophy when we  market to students, or should we hold ourselves to a higher standard than, say, a car manufacturer?

by Brooke Allen (Q4Colleges.com)

Emory University confessed that for 11 years it has been fudging data it sent in for U. S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges rankings. The publisher said that, “Our preliminary calculations show that the misreported data would not have changed the school’s ranking in the past two years (No. 20) and would likely have had a small to negligible effect in the several years prior.” (Read the article here.)

This second confession by U. S. News only serves to prove that their ranking methodology is deeply flawed. Since integrity is such a major part of character, confessed cheating should drop you to Dead Last in the rankings, and a cover-up should get you barred altogether pending review by the accrediting authorities. Continue reading “Is Cheating by Colleges Just Another Clever Marketing Ploy?”

Some Artists Really Are Too Cool for School

Is higher education the best thing for everyone?

By David Yaffe (Syracuse)

I just finished teaching a poetry class in which nearly every poet had a degree from the Ivy League or Seven Sisters. But plenty of great artists never went to college, or else they dropped out. Walt Whitman and Hart Crane didn’t seem to miss college degrees, and in Tin Pan Alley, neither did George and Ira Gershwin.

True, Cole Porter graduated from Yale, where he was the greatest Whiffenpoof ever. The inventor of the modern incarnation of singer-songwriter, Bob Dylan, blew off classes at the University of Minnesota for a one-way ticket to New York City, Woody Guthrie, and destiny, but Guthrie’s fellow troubadour Pete Seeger attended Harvard (before dropping out), where his father was a musicologist. Suzanne Vega majored in English at Barnard, and Paul Simon did the same at Queens College and even did a little time in law school. (Like a litigator, Simon would sometimes begin his verses with facts: “They’ve got a wall in China / It’s a thousand miles long.”)

Leonard Cohen not only has a literature degree from Continue reading “Some Artists Really Are Too Cool for School”