Jewish World Review July 6, 2011 / 4 Tamuz, 5771
Chronicles of Higher Education
By Paul Greenberg
Higher education keeps getting lower. And not just in this state, where the core curriculum at the
Happily, this sad trend has inspired a familiar reaction. Over here, as state universities cut back on required courses that once were considered necessary for a well-rounded education, small liberal arts colleges have taken up the slack. Now comes word from
These new schools are part of an old tradition. Isn't that how the first universities in
Even in the darkest times, learning was kept alive by communities of scholars, whether in ancient monasteries or through that new invention, the university. No matter how dark the times, some never give up on the light. May their tribe increase in our time, too.
But it won't be easy, reviving the standards of higher education in this country. Case in point: The most obvious message of an article in the
The article was supposed to be about the educational background of state legislators in this country. It put
The only thing clear about such a report is that whoever wrote it needs to rewrite it. After getting his facts and stats right. This kind of "research" makes our state legislature here in
The best response to the report came from state Senator
Counselor and Senator Luker noted that he got his law degree from the
The savvy senator seems quite aware that having a degree is no guarantee of being educated. Sir
Whenever the all too obvious shortcomings of American education -- higher, lower or in between -- are pointed out, the most predictable response from the defenders of the educational establishment tends to be delivered in pure educanto, a lingo designed to obscure rather than clarify meaning.
In that sense, educanto is much like the newspeak of George Orwell's "1984," the purpose of which was not only to provide a medium of expression for the party elite but also to make all other modes of thought impossible, language would have become so muddled.
Educantists realize there is no greater threat to their domination of American education than clear thought rendered in clear language. No wonder they abhor plain English and try to avoid it at all costs, lest they say something meaningful and give the game away.
The use of verbal fog to disguise, confuse and generally fend off any salient criticism is scarcely new. Specialized jargon has long been the first and last resort of those in any field who would like their views to appear well grounded when they're just hot air.
"We have seen many great Scholars, meer Learned Men, and Graduates in the last Degree of Study, whose English has been far from Polite, full of Stiffness and Affectation, hard Words, and long unusual Coupling of Syllables and Sentences, which sound harsh and untuneable to the Ear, and shock the Reader both in Expression and Understanding."
This is not a new problem, but one that has metastasized with the expansion of bureaucracy in education and just about everywhere else. Its surest symptom: language that's more pretentious than meaningful.
Conclusion: Whatever sage exclaimed, "Oh, Justice! What crimes are committed in thy name!" may not have considered all those committed in education's.
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