Phi Beta Cons

Can Anything Be Done About Miserable Courses?

That is the question Professor Walter Williams asks in his column today.  He sees the problem with foolish, politicized courses (which would be bad enough with highly educated students, but as Williams points out, many college students today struggle with literacy and have a very weak foundation of basic knowledge) as rooted in the unwillingness of trustees to step in when they need to.  Williams suggests that boards of trustees should hire an ombudsman whose job would be to carefully evaluate the school’s curriculum and report to them.  Most trustees are too busy to do that on their own. I think that’s an excellent idea.

 

When they get down to oversight, a good rule of thumb for trustees would be to say that courses will be about the teaching of bodies of knowledge in academic disciplines.  Of course, that leaves room for theories and opinions, but rules out courses that are nothing but theories and opinions, such as “The Unbearable Whiteness of Barbie,” which Williams criticizes.  If professors want to spout off on their own ideas, they have academic journals and blogs for that.  Undergraduate courses ought to be devoted to the dissemination of knowledge.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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