Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hmm …

… A Truthy Critique of American Higher Ed | The Los Angeles Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This review would have been much better if the reviewer had spent less time telling us what he thinks about the book and more about what the book has to say. The reviewer also seems guilty of what he accuses Deresiewicz of:

Deresiewicz, indeed, seems to be operating under a model he (falsely) associates with the fields he maligns. Studying the liberal arts, he writes, teaches us that “there is no ‘information,’ strictly speaking; there are only arguments.” But this is quite wrong. High school students often come to college under this misapprehension — like Deresiewicz, they often confuse opinion for argument — and much of the work in lower-division courses is designed to teach them otherwise. An argument, I’ve just finished telling my first-year writing students, is an assertion bolstered by evidence
Well, actually, argument is a mode of discourse characterized by a line of reasoning designed to demonstrate the truth or falsehood of a given proposition. Evidence figures, of course, but so does logic, both inferential and deductive. Deresiewicz's book may not be all that good, but there is plenty of evidence that American higher education is increasingly less than meets the eye.

1 comment:

  1. Facts cannot be argued; opinions about those facts can be argued.

    Students need to learn about facts and about argument. And they need to learn the differences.

    One of the problems with higher education is that too many professors insist that their opinions are immune from argument because -- in their views -- their opinions are facts.

    I could offer plenty of evidence in support of that last opinion, but there is neither room nor time for it here. Therefore, I will be like so many professors that I know: you should accept my opinion as a fact.