That Was The Month That Was: Education

While I wasn’t blogging during my three-week trip to Europe, I did try to keep up with my Feedly, Twitter, and other online reading sources, bookmarking a variety of posts and articles. Enough that I’ll end January with three separate month-wide links wraps, one for each of the three main themes of this blog. We’ll start with education:

New U. Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh
Licensed by Creative Commons (Eric Upchurch)

• What the University of Michigan’s $35 million contract with new football coach Jim Harbaugh says about the changing role of the university president.

• American colleges and universities raised a record $37.5 billion last year, up over 10% from last year. But while total giving from alumni rose, only 8.3% of alumni actually made donations to their alma maters, continuing a downward trend.

• Will higher ed join cable TV and the music industry in being “unbundled”? Derek Newton is not convinced: “…it’s a fantasy that higher education is careening toward an unbundled future of consumer choice, lower prices, and efficiency. Those making such predictions are peddling flawed analogies, while the technology they rely on is flawed. They just don’t understand the economics of higher education.”

• One of the Twin Cities’ four law schools made history as the first to offer a hybrid program sanctioned by the American Bar Association.

• For all my reservations about online education, one thing that’s always excited me about it was the potential for increasing alumni engagement. Colgate University is all over it, apparently.

• Some bad news about the English major

• Three years after writing Liberal Arts at the Brink, Victor Ferrall thinks the future for my favorite model of education is worse than bleak — in high schools as well as colleges and universities.

Ronald Reagan being sworn in as California governor in 1967
Ronald Reagan being sworn in as California governor in 1967 – Reagan Presidential Library

• If so, was Gov. Ronald Reagan’s 1967 statement that California taxpayers should not be “subsidizing intellectual curiosity” the turning point?

• I’m not all that encouraged by the fact that more and more community college students are earning associate degrees in “liberal arts.” Doesn’t that suggest that many are simply trying to “get gen ed out of the way” as cheaply as possible before going on to a four-year school to complete their major field of study?

• Meanwhile, where do students in high schools learn wisdom?

• Even as yet another university decided not to require SAT scores from applicants, Mark Bauerlein critiqued how standardization of such tests has led to homogenization: “The events, ideas, artworks, and beliefs that distinguish human beings too sharply are ruled out. We have fairness . . . and flatness.”

• In an interview with his denominational magazine, historian Jay Green made the case for “faithful learning,” in secular universities as much as Christian colleges: “It would be reckless of us to send our children into college without helping them anticipate and discern the potential ideological and spiritual pitfalls they are likely to face in and outside the classroom; we need to send them to college with their eyes wide open and to buttress them for the challenges ahead. Having said that, I also think we should urge our kids to avoid walking into undergraduate classrooms with the “fists up,” assuming that every encounter with a secular professor or a non-Christian text will be an occasion to correct errors or to contend for the faith. They need to be shrewd, yes, but they still must be teachable. With a proper attitude of discernment, our kids need to embrace their opportunities to learn through their encounters with biology and economics, political science and poetry, history and physics. Christian students do not engage the world of academic learning alone. God is with them in every circumstance, and it may please Him to use even their experiences of researching papers, practicing scales, conjugating verbs, or writing code to make them more like Jesus.”

• After complaints from evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham, Duke University (a United Methodist school) dropped its plan to let Muslim students offer a Friday afternoon call to prayer from the university chapel’s bell tower.

• I’m hopeful that Bethel will participate in a new longitudinal study of how college students experience and perceive interfaith diversity. Here’s a summary of the researchers’ findings from an initial study.

• Next time I travel to Europe, perhaps I should fly Virgin Atlantic. Then I’d be able to watch some “Great Courses” instead of repeated showings of Date Night and Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Of course, one such course is called “Not All Carbs Are Created Equal,” so…

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