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Archive for "Oct 18 2011"

The #OWS Crowds’ Sucker Bet on Higher Ed

I admit; I chortled (in a completely inappropriate way):

The number of people participating in the Occupy Wall Street sit-ins because they are angry that their education has not yielded the fruits that they hoped it would becomes more apparent by the day. Many of the protesters I have met are understandably ruffled that they are unemployed, and they often finish their remonstrations with a non-sequitur, delivered as if it were a knockout blow: “And I went to college!” Well, one might ask, “So what?”

I first noticed this “college = good life” fallacy back in England. A close friend of mine was looking for a job straight out of college, and remained unemployed for six months while he searched for what he described as a “graduate job.” Outside of those careers that rely on specific skills and expertise — doctors, veterinarians, and so forth — I have never been sure quite what this term means. My friend has a degree in modern history. Congratulations! But there is no obvious career path for this qualification. Why should it lend itself more to working in, say, finance than to working in a 7-Eleven?

This is why I can’t accept that some among the people Stupid Fucking Hippies, while no doubt earnest, possess anything resembling the ability to bring critical thinking to bear in regards to their “message” when they whine about college debt. I took a full measure of Higher Education™, as offered by CUNY/CSI The Thirteenth Grade, and walked away from the place in disgust… pushed, actually, by a couple of–okay, one was a full professor (who got me a part-time job as a back stage wage slave for a waay the fuck off Broadway company where he was pals with the guy running it, after I had completely ripped off an almighty Harlan Ellison short story and mashed it into a one-act play, leading Prof to believe I had a future in thee-ah-ter… until he read my first original manuscript, which he gave an “A” grade, with a margin note, “You are insane if you think anyone will stage this.”).

The other guy was an adjunct who had just published an ass-kicking novel that CSI’s The Thirteenth Grade”s English Department had studiously ignored (so I ran full page ad in the student rag), and was himself planning to bolt. They both

side note: there was a third guy, who taught “The Bible as Literature” that, on the first day of class, asked everyone why they had signed up for the class. He “hmm” and nodded, and offered an occasional “Interesting,” till he got to me; then, burst out in laughter when I said “Because a bunch of the Old Testament and pretty much all of Revelations is just fucking nuts, and I wanted to talk about that with someone not wearing a Roman collar.”

–told me to run away as fast as I could… sure, jousting with teachers can be fun, they all admitted as much, but in their eyes, I was just wasting time.

As the Prof put it, “you in a classroom here with anybody teaching business approaches the surreal. You staged a coup at the student newspaper because you were pissed off about “flop sweat” getting cut from one of your columns. Yeah, I heard about that; a lot of people here think you’re my pet project. And I’ve heard you’re running riot in the PoliSci faculty, because of the stuff you’ve printed in the student newspaper since then, and I have been told, I quote here, “a penchant to throw the NY Times on the desk with a headline circled in red and say “What about THAT.”

“That only happened once,” I replied. “C’mon, Herb, they call themselves “Political Science” guys and can’t figure out Guy Molinari? That asshole instructor was trying to convince the class that Ronald Reagan was, in fact, a liberal, and bringing up ancient Greece. I told him that classical liberalism died sometime between 1959 and 1965. I asked him, “What about your hero Bobby Kennedy, wiretapping anybody who pissed his brother off, like Martin Luther King?” He wasn’t happy. He was used to feeding the dumb his blithering bullshit and I wouldn’t stand for it. The class turned into a tennis match; I’d volley his bullshit and he’d return his weak claptrap. Everyone else in the room just watched the show….

“And then Gorby fell; THAT was the day’s paper I tossed on the desk. I figured the collapse of the Supreme Soviet King High Heir of Khrushchev deserved discussion in a PoliSci class, even if the rest of the room were ignorant assholes. And he blackballed the topic.”

“And two days later you trashed him in the newspaper,” Herb said.

“I never used his name, department, anything identifying.”

“Except for that “grey haired, four eyed, pony-tailed fool with tenure” bit?”

“Herb, that’s half the fucking male faculty here, including you.”

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