A panel at the Modern Language Association proposes to ruin environmental science as well.
A panel at the Modern Language Association’s annual meeting in Chicago on environmental sustainability and its role in English literature featured Foothill College’s Scott Lankford, Geoffrey Martin of the Harry S. Truman College, Moravian College professor Theresa Dougal and University of New Hampshire graduate student Molly Hall.
It's the Modern Language Association, and the expected word-noise follows.
Martin claimed that the “metacognitive” work at community colleges remains important as the community college is now in a position to change education. He admitted that employability needs to be a bigger part of a college education and the possibility of enabling “students to move across disciplinary boundaries” should be considered more than ever. He felt there was too much “segregation between the sciences and the humanities” within the learning community and wanted to emphasize “relationship between mind, body and spirit.”
We used to have a core curriculum for that.
That decline is due in large part to the fact that humanities professors themselves reject the traditional values underlying those disciplines. As for social sciences—economics, political science, sociology—the paper should have looked at whether their scholarship is fostering analytical thinking. It is widely recognized, for example, that overemphasis on the mathematical side of economics has diminished attention to economic principles.
Indeed. Higher education has not yet learned the lesson of the railroads.  Rip up too much track, and when the traffic returns, there's no place to put it.  But the panelists at the Modern Language Association want to stand fast at their indefensible position.
Martin said that his method of teaching was influenced by something call “disciplinary literacy,” where “necessary political access needs to accompany” change and reform. His “hardly radical revisionary education” fosters “a cooperative learning environment,” but to teach this learning curriculum is “a dance of virtue [and] value.” Martin actually complained that his courses are prerequisite classes at his college, where students would find out about it after-the-fact.  He wanted to  be selected by popular demand.

He said, “We can’t run with the narrow ideology of what sustainability is,” saying that it is up to the professors to “connect those emerging fields to scholarship and learning” to eventually give students “political power in debates.” He sought out to “debunk the myth that sustainability is bourgeoisie and whiteness,” although Martin confessed that there is an “overrepresentation of whiteness and portrayals of environment.” He called this the “reality of environmental non-white engagement with the world” and said that “students need to see themselves and their communities as stakeholders in these debates” and “need to be pushed” to that knowledge.

Theresa Dougal declared that she has tried to “integrate my longstanding environmentalism into my teaching,” even when it proves difficult. She proudly “emphasizes the admirable canon of environmental literature” in her classroom, but was disappointed about the “deficiency” of “ecologically literate” students. Dougal provided anecdotes about her environmentally-conscious students becoming movers and shakers in the environmental industry, without citing statistics. She wondered aloud that “if what Al Gore said was true”, then why are the “sustainable humanities” failing to gain traction?
If the Vice President's predictions (no polar ice by 2013, to cite one) are not true, where does that leave the sustainable humanities?  And to what extent does the preachy, identity-politics tone of these panelists turn off students who might be reached by logic and content.  But when you're steeped in Roland Barthes, and coherent beliefs are mere constructs, you're screwed.
Professors and scientists must find “more environmental ways for manufacturing” because, {Molly Hall] said, “Scientists can develop and research all they want, but without engaging” others, it will fail. Hall ended her remarks and concluded that there is “a way to remain relevant in an academic culture that insists on our worthlessness.”
Good luck with that.  The fault, dear readers, lies with the over-reach of the humanities types.
The real cause of the job misery is the agenda for privatization and defunding public expenditures orchestrated by the global economic system that has been producing misery and suffering for millions of lives around the world as socioeconomic inequalities continue to magnify.
It's really very simple. Universities are failing at their mission, and the Modern Language Association is the point of origin of that failure.
Part of old America still abides by absolute truth and falsity. A door is either hung plumb or not. The calibrations of the Atlas rocket either are accurate and it takes off or inaccurate and it blows up. Noble intentions cannot make prime numbers like five or seven divisible.
Panels at the Modern Language Association can rail against market tests and deny market tests, and their disciplines and their members will continue to fail market tests for as long as the denial goes on.


David Foster said...

"Higher education has not yet learned the lesson of the railroads. Rip up too much track, and when the traffic returns, there's no place to put it."

Maybe they think they have some educational equivalent of CTC in the works...

Stephen Karlson said...

Centralized traffic control can make a single-track stretch operated by timetable and train order, with or without block signals, more productive. But the railroads have been coming to grips with downsizing for its own sake for years. If you're able to locate the January 1979 Trains, read the article about the Falcon piggyback train (to this day, some dispatchers refer to the mid-afternoon intermodals as "the bird") and note that singling the Overland Route from West Denison to Missouri Valley in Iowa, CTC or no, looked wrong beginning from 1968. The latest issue of Trains speaks of restoring the old Richmond to Raleigh Seaboard Air Line passenger main for the extended corridor service, and the Empire Corridor in New York could sure use Mr. Vanderbilt's four tracks to end interference from freight trains.

I'm pessimistic about universities doing anything other than repeating all the other mistakes the railroads made, as today's posts will illustrate.