In my second semester of grad school, a young assistant prof (who was pretty cool, in retrospect, and is well admired within policy circles today) told us "Being an academic means that everyday is the weekend, but you work every weekend." So true, even more true this weekend. But I like working on my own stuff (sometimes) on the weekend. In full disclosure, my weekend usually begins on Thursday, so I can thrash about at my desk and self flagellate as I attempt to organize my ideas and thoughts. It's been one of those weekends.
I am taking a page from In Professorial Fashion's awesome blog and starting a new segment, called "Fashions in Higher Ed." While not about sartorial style, this section will feature new possible trends in how one consider my industry, the college and university system. (Since many of my modest universe of readers are current/former graduate/undergraduate students or faculty, perhaps it will be of interest. Let me know if it is radically boring).
- Fashion number one, from FireDogLake, discusses a recent book called REwired, by Larry Rosen, which makes the argument that these Web 2.0/SMS/Smartphone generation of young 'uns (I count my baby sis in this cohort) aka "Digital Natives," have a different approach to knowledge, communication, and access, and higher ed's antiquated ways need to step the heck up. The whole education system needs to get with their "plugged-in" attitudes and demands for knowledge and accessibility, and use technology more (This means I should not sigh when I get 11PM, "Professah, what was the assignment," emails? I just need to get with it?)
Part of me thinks that EVERY generation has been painted with a broad brush that we're so different, so irreverent, so non-traditional compared to the last, but how unique is the "digital revolution generation" of students? Are emails, blogs, SMS, Twitter changing their approach? Is it true, what the grammar Chicken Littles say, that digital literacy kills traditional ones? However, not being on the receiving end of the higher ed system, I wonder if adopting certain technologies would really make a difference.
- Emerging Higher Ed fashion number two: In the NY Times, an articled called "Plan B: Skip College," spoke about a very nascent movement by economists and rogue education policy folks who were arguing that our policies for dealing with skills and employment problems by the wholesale pushing of higher education can be misguided, as many folks don't use or need their degrees, but end up with a lot of debt. On the other hand, there is a significant wage premium to getting a degree (even to having "some college") in the US, and with stagnant real wages since in the 1970s, that's nothing to shake your fist at. This is especially thought provoking for me since I teach and "urban" student profile- meaning that 85% of so of the student max out on government grants, work 30 hours or more a week, and come from lower income families. Many are first generation college goers or first generation Americans. Don't get me wrong, I have many many brilliant students who rival the best students I've taught at the U of Minnesota, a "top tier" public university, but many of my best students are returning students, who have returned to college after several years on the job, going part time, and thus are committed and take it seriously. Part of me thinks that for some, going to work and coming back is works well, but part of me thinks the benefits of a liberal arts education should be available to everyone, regardless of their preparedness or even if they appreciate it.
Thanks for allowing me this non-research interlude. Thoughts?
Shirt: Rodarte for Target
Shorts: JCrew, thrifted
House slippers: Target
cranky face: courtesy of the research "agenda"