I was all set to write a post about how we remain obsessed with the Ivies and those top, elite colleges, to our own detriment. And I’m not just talking about how families will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get little Jimmy and Suzy into Yale or Duke, but how we, in academia and the media, keep pushing these colleges as the standard, for better or for worse. Three items:
- In Forbes, Why Trying To Learn Clear Writing in College is Like Trying to Learn Sobriety in a Bar. College, of course, is limited to Brown, elite MBA programs, UCLA, and…that’s it.
- In the Chronicle, Academic English is Not a Club I Want to Join (sorry if the link doesn’t work or is behind a paywall). A little more variety, but still, big, public, elite, R1 institutions.
- In Slate, the response to William Pannaker’s essay, a laundry list of self-important success stories from Cornell, Johns Hopkins, Syracuse, and the Ohio State.
Nothing from a regional state school (or community college). Nothing from a PhD from a less than elite program. Nothing about the variety of experiences that are found in higher education, from how English is taught to the experience of the workforce therein.
And then, I read about an adjunct professor in community college who killed himself
. 71 years old, history of depression, and all I can think is, did he not get help because he didn’t have health insurance? And I remember reading about another adjunct who worked through his cancer treatments because he couldn’t afford not to. He passed away from the cancer (sorry, no link; I saw it on facebook, in a private note, and I don’t have permission to share). And how some are trying to create an Adjunct Emergency Fund
So, I’m sorry if your experience at Brown and with elite MBA students isn’t all that you imagined it would be; most of us are teaching our “mediocre” and “non-elite” students how to write quite well, thank you very much. And, I’m sorry I’m not the kind of role model you’re looking for in English. Or, maybe I am, but you can’t be bothered to meet me. Finally, I’m so, so happy that you’re academic fairy tale has come true. Doesn’t mean that it has for most people.
Ivory tower, indeed.
For the rest of us, it’s real life, and it’s about time others started realizing that. Although, most people reading this blog already do realize it. Preaching to the choir. Now, it’s up to us to actually DO something about it. I wrote this. I’ll keep writing this.
I need to figure out what else it is I can do. Because these words that I write, while reaching an audience, can only do so much.