colleges what are they good for, poster of jane avril, tony the disappointment, the alamo drafthouse rant

More and more Americans are going to college, but how many of them are actually learning anything? There are two major popular theories as to why we have colleges. As in what use do they serve. One is that colleges separate the weak from the adapters. Or colleges as a kind of scholastic basic training. Those that can run four years with a full pack are the fittest of the herd. It sounds rough, but do you want someone who could not cut it in college given a degree anyway to build the bridges you cross, defending you in an important legal case, performing your liver surgery or designing the circuits of your computer. Probably not. Those people probably major in business anyway. The other theory is more Socratic,

I could have answered the question in a different way. I could have said, “You’re reading these books because they teach you things about the world and yourself that, if you do not learn them in college, you are unlikely to learn anywhere else.” This reflects a different theory of college, a theory that runs like this: In a society that encourages its members to pursue the career paths that promise the greatest personal or financial rewards, people will, given a choice, learn only what they need to know for success. They will have no incentive to acquire the knowledge and skills important for life as an informed citizen, or as a reflective and culturally literate human being. College exposes future citizens to material that enlightens and empowers them, whatever careers they end up choosing.

In performing this function, college also socializes. It takes people with disparate backgrounds and beliefs and brings them into line with mainstream norms of reason and taste. Independence of mind is tolerated in college, and even honored, but students have to master the accepted ways of doing things before they are permitted to deviate. Ideally, we want everyone to go to college, because college gets everyone on the same page. It’s a way of producing a society of like-minded grownups.

Maybe it is good to know that the colleges in the U.S. have somewhat split the difference and used both theories. Colleges teach skills and certain criteria must be met, but everyone will take a core curriculum which exposes students to the history and ideas of western and some eastern civilization. These include the I’m going into some financial related business why do I have to take two semesters of philosophy kinds of classes. By the time students reach their late twenties and get obscure references in movies, novels and comic books, these core classes in the humanities come to be appreciated.

The most interesting finding is that students majoring in liberal-arts fields—sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities—do better on the C.L.A., and show greater improvement, than students majoring in non-liberal-arts fields such as business, education and social work, communications, engineering and computer science, and health. There are a number of explanations. Liberal-arts students are more likely to take courses with substantial amounts of reading and writing; they are more likely to attend selective colleges, and institutional selectivity correlates positively with learning; and they are better prepared academically for college, which makes them more likely to improve. The students who score the lowest and improve the least are the business majors.

Sixty per cent of American college students are not liberal-arts majors, though. The No. 1 major in America is, in fact, business. Twenty-two per cent of bachelor’s degrees are awarded in that field. Ten per cent are awarded in education, seven per cent in the health professions.

If college is a mix of one and three than what to do with all these people who see college as a modern day apprenticeship. They are there to get their moneys worth. A future, hopefully near future return on their dollar. That is not particularly theory one or two. Merit and democratic ideals take a back seat to pursuit on monetary security. Theory three: large modern economies are very specialized and demand knowledge to fit niches and college is where you get the knowledge to gain entry into the niche. No well rounded literate culturally attuned individuals who might have a specialty but have a foundation of generalized knowledge capable of analytical reasoning, writing skills and problem solving.

henri de toulouse lautrec poster of jane avril

Why Progressives Should be Mad at Anthony Weiner. The Great Man theory of history is not completely objectionable. Great minds – Issac Newton, Madame Curie, Thomas Paine, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, etc – were all great thinkers and synthesizers of the everyman ideas of their time. The disappointing thing about smart  people like Weiner – who could have been a Senator or VP some day – at that power level is that they are parts of a larger picture. Working with others they achieve the kinds of milestones that progressives (and the next generation of conservatives) generally think of as progress. My personal disappointment means nothing. Rep. Weiner disappointed and hurt millions of people. The way the game is played he could not have done better at diminishing his power and the possibility of future achievements than had he seat down with a teanut and planned it.

The Alamo Drafthouse – Movie theater’s anti-texting policy enrages patron

There is text and sound which are not safe for work. I picked up a of couple pieces of information from the comments. She was warned twice before her third infraction caused her to be ejected. The movie screen displays the cell phone warning prominently before the show starts. That said she might still have had some salient point to make. If she had a point it was lost in the crazed rant.

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