For two decades, I've been carrying on a rear-guard action against trendy changes in higher education, going so far as to assert that universities are failing at their mission. Now comes a university president (via College Insurrection) preparing to give up on the enterprise?
In the same four to five years it has taken to produce the last set of college graduates, the U.S. economy has changed dramatically. The workforce has become far more competitive and employers much more selective about those whom they choose to hire. The public recognizes the world is changing, and they soon will demand higher education conform accordingly. In this new and troubled economy, colleges and universities cannot afford a "business-as-usual" operational approach to producing graduates.
If "business-as-usual" means the access-assessment-remediation-retention paradigm, I concur. Mr Path appears to be on some other path.
The tipping point for higher education is occurring. Public opinion dictates that it is time for change and compromise. There must be an acknowledgement that workforce skills training is within the role and responsibility of higher education. There must be a curricular balance struck and until a serious discussion takes place on college campuses around the country about applied learning, students will continue to suffer the consequences.

There are real differences between theoretical instruction and applied instruction. Too much emphasis on one or the other can lead to problems. While the exclusive use of applied "hands-on" learning methods can lead to graduates with skill sets so narrow that they cannot advance their careers beyond initial employment; the overemphasis of theoretical learning, to the exclusion of applied learning, can lead to graduates that are unable to even obtain initial employment.
These choices strike me as incomplete, and false. It's long been the position in the College of Liberal Arts at Northern Illinois that the liberal arts graduates are better able to make connections, and thus more likely to be promoted. Thus must it still be with those narrow skill sets. There's more in a similar vein from Andrew Sullivan.
Peter Laarman likewise finds the report’s emphasis on the practical dismaying, quipping, “God help us if we think the only way to save humanities education is to corrupt it utterly by stressing the cash value—or the national security value—of brushing up our Shakespeare.”
The cash value, or the national security value, is in being able to make connections, and in having a functioning jive detector.  But higher education might have made too many enemies for logic and content to prevail in the near term.
[Duke University president Richard] Brodhead is not simply a fraud. He is a witting player in the collapse of scholarship, easily observable in a conversation with college graduates of the past four decades, or by the absence of ethics and morality dramatized regularly in American society. But the audacity to list the subjects that comprise the humanities as we knew them, and omit the courses offered today that have undermined, or in many cases replaced them, is a testament to the abandonment of the lessons they were designed to teach. What's left is not worth the effort to preserve.
The undermining is being done by radical-chic, politically correct courses.  That's still primarily a talking point on the right wing of the Canon Wars, but the growing reserve army of underemployed university graduates cannot help the defenders of business as usual.

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