Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time

In the Basement of the Ivory Tower — Professor X

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I work part-time in the evenings as an adjunct instructor of English. I teach two courses, Introduction to College Writing (English 101) and Introduction to College Literature (English 102), at a small private college and at a community college. The campuses are physically lovely—quiet havens of ornate stonework and columns, Gothic Revival archways, sweeping quads, and tidy Victorian scalloping. Students chat or examine their cell phones or study languidly under spreading trees. Balls click faintly against bats on the athletic fields.

Inside the arts and humanities building, my students and I discuss Shakespeare, Dubliners, poetic rhythms, and Edward Said. We might seem, at first glance, to be enacting some sort of college idyll. We could be at Harvard. But this is not Harvard, and our classes are no idyll. Beneath the surface of this serene and scholarly mise-en-scène roil waters of frustration and bad feeling, for these colleges teem with students who are in over their heads…..

In the Basement of the Ivory Tower – The Atlantic (June 2008)

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Author: Bill

Stumbling down the Middle Path, one day at a time.

One thought on “In the Basement of the Ivory Tower — Professor X

  1. Is there no one to throw them a life preserver?

    I’m not so sure a life preserver is the issue so much as unreasonable value placed on a college education. We need to look more realistically on skill sets and their pertinence, give more life experiences credits, and perhaps tailor curricula to the needs of the job, rather than say that a perfectly competent heavy equipment operator needs a BA to be a manager of a construction site.

    Remember that tough old Senior Master Sergeant we had at UK in ROTC? He bragged about not having finished high school, and yet he ran the whole unit while the officers walked around with swagger sticks.

    Trade schools are the answer, and always have been. As the article says, we have some sort of societal prejudice against them. And yet we have police academies, all sorts of trade schools in the military, and a variety of other practices that belies the party line.

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