Why the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act Still Matters

How should higher education be funded?

by Christopher Loss (Vanderbilt)

July 2, 1862, was a busy day for President Abraham Lincoln. He dispatched several letters to far-flung military commanders. He held meetings on the war and on the status of fugitive slaves. He also signed three laws, including one banning polygamy in the territories and another creating a loyalty oath for all government officials. The final law Lincoln signed, the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act, putting the federal government in charge of the development of public colleges and universities, not only turned out to be the most important of the three bills he signed but stands as an enduring legacy of his presidency.

The long-germinating land-for-education bill was the brainchild of a self-taught son of a blacksmith, Representative—and later Senator— Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont, a Republican. He believed that the Continue reading “Why the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act Still Matters”

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Those Who Can’t: 27 Ways of Looking at a Classroom

What have you learned about teaching?

by David L. Kirp (Berkeley)

1. I was a second-year graduate student when I got hired – more years ago than I care to remember – for my first teaching job as an instructor of something called “expository writing.” Make up a course, I was told, there’s nothing to it. But even as I was ordering books and inventing paper topics for the unsuspecting freshmen, I just knew that everybody involved, especially the students, understood that the enterprise was farcical. What did I, barely lettered and entirely untrained, have to say to ferociously smart 18-year-olds? How long would it take before someone dropped the curtain to end the play?

As I approached the classroom that first day, I peered in at the 20 slouching bodies, then stared at Continue reading “Those Who Can’t: 27 Ways of Looking at a Classroom”