Around the Web: Political Academics

What’s the role of politics in the academy?
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This Week in Education reports on some recent liberal arguments that sending your children to private school or homeschooling them is anti-progressive. Matthew Woessner, a Republican and a professor at Penn State, rebuts Rick Santorum’s critiques of higher education, suggesting that it might be Santorum’s penchant for vivid exaggeration, not his political views, that got him in trouble in college. Speaking of vivid exaggeration—and in particular falsifications that present themselves as in service of important social and political goals—“Oronte Churm” has two long posts reflecting on the kinds of lessons Mike Daisey and other truth-enhancers teach us about morality.
Herman Berliner, a fierce advocate for teaching civics, reminds us all that professors should never let their political allegiances get in the way of giving all students the respect they deserve. Another useful civics lesson, this time for students, is “attention literacy”: Laurie Essig argues prioritizing a lecture over Facebook is a learned skill.

Inside Higher Ed reports on a poll that reveals how political ideology—or maybe it’s just political messaging—informs the way that conservative and liberals think about the value of a college education. Journalist’s Resource recently did a roundup of studies about the relationship between social media use and political orientation that, given the increasing use of social media in the classroom, is well worth bookmarking. Jeffrey R. Young notes that social media can be used to help gauge whether students are struggling academically. Social media can also be used for harassment: a Commentary in the Chronicle of Higher Education offers useful advice on protecting your students from cyberbullying.

Vanderbilt is beginning to enforce a rule forbidding student groups from excluding would-be participants. Some faith-based student groups are protesting; many students on campus say the real issue is sexual orientation, not religious beliefs. In case you missed President Faust’s email earlier this week, Harvard will once again host an R.O.T.C. office.

Standing up for your students sometimes means challenging them: the faculty of CUNY have filed a lawsuit in the name of academic rigor—CUNY wants to implement a new system designed to make credits more easily transferrable from one CUNY school to another; the faculty argue that the new measures would relax academic standards across the board. Tenured Radical turns to her own college experience to remind us that we should challenge students, allow them to fail when they need to, and never write them off just because they haven’t gotten it together yet.

But do we have any control over any of this, anyway? The Chronicle Review hosts a discussion about whether recent developments in neuroscience mean that we really don’t have free will

This post was written by Odile Harter.

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