There’s an interesting discussion over on Plastic about anti-intellectualism on college campuses. In some ways, it is nice to see that I am not alone in noticing that the increase in numbers of people seeking a university education has significantly changed the environment of the university. I wonder how this plays out in differences between parents and children’s perspectives and expectations about the college experience. A few there mention that the masters is the new bachelors degree, which is increasingly true.
None suggest what can be done about it. The funny thing is that I would expect that if there were a demand, small universities that maintained high intellectual standards would be thriving. While there are some well-known universities that actually deliver in terms of rigor at the undergraduate level, most do not.
What does that mean? Does it mean that a college education (like opera and ballet) do not work well within the market. I suspect that this is the case. The unfortunate side of this is that those undergraduate–and indeed graduate!–students with the potential for deep thought are often dragged down to the mean. The “digerati” often seem keen on hiding any intellect they might possess, and even within the faculty of many institutions, intellectual pursuits are frowned upon as unproductive. And much of whatever intellectual work that exists is reduced to games and posturing rather than serious thought. (There is implicit meaning here: I am not suggesting that my own university or department is necessarily this way. My accusation is broader than that.)