Sunday, September 04, 2016

"Meet The Parents Who Won't Let Their Children Study Literature"

   Well, won't let them major in it, anyway.
   It's not the greatest thing that college has become so vocationalized. OTOH, that's probably what has allowed colleges to flourish, and convinced so many people to attend. Sometimes I think that our job is to trick kids into coming to college with promises of vocational rewards, and then to educate them on the sly while they're there...
   The humanities and social sciences are not inherently full of shit. But they are in fact, right now, largely full of shit. For thirty years now many of the humanities and social sciences have been plagued by two powerful, destructive forces: far-left politics and the postpostmodern mishmash of bad Continental philosophy and literary theory. These things tend to go together. The latter is what you're experiencing when you read about deconstructing gender and/or sex(ualities) and the hermeneutics of quantum gravity...or whatever. Far left PC / identity politics is technically separate from that bullshit, but the alliance between them is so strong that they can be treated as one phenomenon. You can get a feel for this stuff at, e.g., New Real Peer Review. Incidentally, it's New Real Peer Review because the original Real Peer Review was abandoned because the person running it was threatened with exposure. S/he feared reprisals, and so the original project was abandoned. And this merely for posting abstracts of actual papers. Contemplate that for awhile, if you would.
   In all honesty, if I had kids and they wanted to study women's studies or some other nonsense-infected pseudodiscipline, I am inclined to think that I would not pay for it. I don't think it's impermissible to put some limits on what kind of education you'll pay for. A parent might agree to help pay for medical school, but not homeopathy school. I think it's good to err on the side of caution...but if you know that your kid is being sucked into something that's worse than a waste of time--it'll actually (to quote the Mystic speaking about some of his own graduate religion courses) make them dumber...well, it kinda seems irresponsible to facilitate that.
   Many parents don't understand these things in a terribly fine-grained way. So, given the current state of things, I can't really blame them for not wanting their kids to major in the humanities or social sciences. Of course social sciences like econ probably rightly get exempted from this prohibition. And most business majors really are rather a waste of time. And some of the anti-humanities stuff is erroneous. But still, the prohibition is probably justifiable in many cases. I think that students should attend universities largely to satisfy their curiosity. But there have to be some limits on that. And given the naivete of some students, and the massive apparatus in place to suck them into wasting their time on politicized bullshit, some guidance is needed.
   Universities are currently torn between a rightish view that wants to turn them into vo-tech training centers and a left-wing view that wants to turn them into engines of social change / centers of left-wing activism. It often seems that there's less and less room for universities to fulfill their actual--intellectual, scholarly--responsibilities.


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