14.6.12

DIAGNOSING THE COLLEGE BUBBLE.

Berry College's Peter Lawler channels Cold Spring Shops.
To defend some administrative expansion for a moment:  Fund raising, admissions, and "retention" have become much more complicated.  Colleges seem stuck with treating students much more like consumers, and so with indulging student whims and whines.  That's led, for example, to a kind of amenities arms race--resort-style health facilities, gourmet food, and so forth.

Colleges used to worry about the character and moral fiber of their students, and so they had a lot of in loco parentis social regulations and demerits and so forth.  Now they worry that students aren't happy or too stressed or lonely or short on self-esteem.  Colleges are paranoid about retention--that if the consumers aren't happy they'll just choose another brand of college. They also spent a significant amount of time and resources being concerned with the health of students, as if the main variable associated with being healthy isn't being young.

Let's say there's something to each of these charges of self-indulgence, although in each case the charge is exaggerated. (And I presented each charge with plenty of irony.)
Exaggerated, perhaps, but worth putting in front of Big Think readers all the same.  As is his diagnosis of what's gone wrong.
The administrators themselves, full of models of excellence derived from business (encouraged by government when the Republicans are in power), schools of teacher education (which should be abolished or keep to themselves), and political correctness (encouraged by government when the Democrats are in power), demand quantitative, measurable, assessable solutions to tricky and often "goes with the territory" problems.   A problem with techno-democracy is that it tends to harness everything to the imperatives of technology or "the measurable."  There's more than some irony in addressing techno-democratic excesses with techno-democratic methods.
That's why there are market tests.

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