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Cultural Amnesia: America’s Future and the Crisis of Memory : Stephen Bertman (2000)

May 27, 2012

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“Under the influence of materialism, job-smart students apply to universities not because of a school’s true commitment to undergraduate education but because of the school’s “prestige” which can later be parlayed into lucrative employment offers and salaries. Under materialism’s spell, college becomes, in the words of the late Ernest R. Boyer, a mere “credentialing exercise”. It’s not seen as a serious intellectual quest. . . . The aim is to figure out what you need to get through this system. As a result, many students play the angles. As educated consumers, they appeal grades that might impede their financial goals and, in increasing numbers, resort to cheating to insure the highest grades with the least expenditure of effort.

[ … ]

Meanwhile, back on the mega-campus, professors are busily engaged in research to advance their own careers, leaving the actual task of instruction to overworked and underpaid assistants. Up in the tower, administrators huddle, devising marketing strategies to please the pragmatic board of governors, largely comprised of businessmen. They formulate market-driven plans, typically rewarding programs that attract the most students or research grants, and penalizing those programs that don’t with attrition or extinction by denying them replacements when their faculty retire or die. More and more they allow the complexion of the university to mirror society’s own commercial face rather than challenging society’s conceit and their own by holding their blemishes up to the critical standard of another era.”

[pp. 80-81]

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