Professors and students

  • Building on some of John Holbo’s observations, Timothy Burke argues that publishing is killing academia:
    The drive to scholarly overproduction which now reaches even the least selective institutions and touches every corner and niche of academia is a key underlying source of the degradation of the entire scholarly enterprise. It produces repetition. It encourages obscurantism. It generates knowledge that has no declared purpose or passion behind it. . . . It forces overspecialization as a strategy for controlling the domains to which one is responsible as a scholar and teacher.

    (Via Bookninja.) Two excellent books, James Hynes’ Publish & Perish and A.S. Byatt’s Possession, evoke this phenomenon as it exists in university English departments.

  • Evaluating the literacy of college students has become increasingly complex with the proliferation of online reference materials. A controversial new test will “measure students’ ability to manage exercises like sorting e-mail messages or manipulating tables and charts, and to assess how well they organize and interpret information from many sources and in myriad forms.”
  • The reinvented SAT, which appears this year, includes an essay. Scores awarded vary wildly, depending on the reader.
  • Ben MacIntyre bemoans the death of the venomous student progress report, and provides excerpts from those issued to writers and others, including: “Well, goodbye Graves, and remember that your best friend is the wastepaper basket” (to Robert Graves), and “Hopeless . . . certainly on the road to failure” (to John Lennon).

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