Reviews and Comments…BOOOOOO!

Posted: July 17, 2013 in Observations
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Okay, so we all know that goodreads.com is a book review site…right?

I had to read the Higher Education ? for my Higher Education Policy class and honestly, I had to put it down a few times to regain perspective. When I started to feel sorry for the way faculty were portrayed in this book, I took a step back and put the book away. If any of you don’t already know, I work at a major Big 10 University and am up to my neck in faculty and their self-centered bullshit every damned day. So, while reading this book, you can imagine my unease when I started to side with the faculty in this author’s arguments. After finishing the book with a bad taste still in my mouth, I wrote the following review on goodreads.

Higher Education?: How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids—and What We Can Do About It
by Andrew Hacker, Claudia Dreifus
7097994
Suzanne M.’s review Jul 12, 13 · edit
1 of 5 stars
Read on July 11, 2013

Working in Higher Education, I have a unique perspective on the issues presented in this book. On many points, they present valid concerns. As in any industry there are those who take advantage of the system and those that work tireless for their chosen profession. Categorizing all faculty into the former grouping is unfair. The condescending tone of their arguments and the lack of statistical data make their arguments hard to back up, making them seem angry and petulant.

The authors of this book also make wide generalizations regarding the functioning of universities. I’ve found {from my own baseless observations – LOL} that most faculty (as the author is) rarely understand the actual administrative processes or the reasons behind them. So to make accusations about the appropriateness of spending is a spurious assumption, riddled with holes.

Hacker bases much of their observations on Ivy League institutions. As many aspire to emulate these universities and colleges, the reality is that the actual number of students attending those institutions are minuscule compared to the greater college going population. How does this relate to the actual problems facing higher education? This book also ignores one of the fundamental issues with higher education today. The students and the parents.

If someone is looking for an accurate and representation of higher education and the problems plaguing us, this is not the book.

Now, as some of you may notice, I commented more on the tone of the book than the actual points the author made. Although I agree with the author’s concerns in most cases (our higher education system and K-12 system does need a hard look) – not necessarily the solutions, I commented mostly on the tone of the writing and the unsubstantiated assumptions. The author states that he and his co-author did not do statistical data collection to back up their conclusions but instead contacted colleagues around the country to gather their information. The anger that came through clear as a bell in their writing and voice made it seem more like the author was angry at the system for personal reasons than some higher purpose or championing the rights of students. The authors of this book also spent a great deal of time on college athletics (without doing any research…might I add) and basically condemned the entire practice, suggesting that perhaps college athletics should be dissolved altogether. Not once did the author take into account that sometimes, an athletic scholarship is the only way some kids are able to go to college. That was very aggravating.

A day or so goes by and then I get an email from goodreads. Someone has commented on my review. What?!? I was very excited and went straight to goodreads. I rarely post reviews (mostly because I can’t be bothered or don’t have the time. The book has to either be fantastic or suck big donkey balls for me to post an actual review), so when someone commented, I was ridiculously excited to see what they thought. Then I opened goodreads and read this…

message 1: by Peter Jul 13, 2013 03:58am
Peter I haven’t read the book and wouldn’t dispute your characterization of it, but it’s clear from where I stand as someone who studied the history of higher education for his Ph.D. and then taught in three institutions that higher education is led by people who are intent on preserving their privileged status at the expense of students and taxpayers. The fact is that the reality of education for too many students does not come close to the stated mission of the institutions they attend. As a result there needs to be an open national discussion about higher ed with the hopes that new leadership emerges and institutes needed reforms.

Okaaaaaay. So, here’s the thing. I wasn’t making a political statement. I didn’t even really discuss the state of higher education today and all the flaws in our educational system (cause believe me, there are quite a few). It was a simple book review. If you haven’t read the book…maybe you shouldn’t comment since you DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT! If you want to have a political discussion or a policy discussion, goodreads isn’t the place for that. Also, if your first statement is that you haven’t read the book on a book review site, that should be your first clue to not hit “post”.

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