This post is a reprint of a piece I published in Quartz in 2017. Here’s a link to the original. It’s an effort to explore the distinctively populist character of American higher education. The idea is that a key to understanding the strong public support that US colleges and universities have managed to generate is their ability to reach beyond … Continue reading Nobel Prizes Are Great, but Football Is Why US Universities Rule
Month: May 2023
Michael Katz — Public Education as Welfare
In this post, I reproduce a seminal essay by Michael Katz called "Public Education as Welfare." It was originally published in Dissent in 2010 (link to the original) and it draws on his book, The Price of Citizenship: Redefining the American Welfare State. I encountered this essay when I was working on a piece of … Continue reading Michael Katz — Public Education as Welfare
College: What Is It Good For?
This post is the text of a lecture I gave in 2013 at the annual meeting of the John Dewey Society. It was published the following year in the Society's journal, Education and Culture. Here's a link to the published version. The story I tell here is not a philosophical … Continue reading College: What Is It Good For?
Alain de Boton: On Asking People What They Do
This lovely essay explores the most common question that modernity prompts strangers to ask each other: What do you do? The author is the philosopher Alain de Botton, who explains that this question is freighted with moral judgment. In a meritocracy, what you do for a living is not just your job; it's who you … Continue reading Alain de Boton: On Asking People What They Do
A Brutal Review of My First Book
I don't know about you, but I love reading brutal book reviews. It's a lot of fun to watch a skilled writer skewer someone else's work with surgical precision (see here and here). In the interest of balance, I thought it would be right and proper to present a review that eviscerates one of my … Continue reading A Brutal Review of My First Book
Malcolm Gladwell on Panicking and Choking: The Different Ways that Amateurs and Professionals Fail
Professionals, by definition, are more skilled than amateurs in any given field, but they both experience failure. And to an average observer, they appear to fail in similar ways. The practitioner is moving along nicely in carrying out his or her craft -- and then suddenly it all falls apart. The golf ball flies off … Continue reading Malcolm Gladwell on Panicking and Choking: The Different Ways that Amateurs and Professionals Fail
The Five-Paragraph Fetish
This is a piece I published in Aeon several years ago about the persistence of the five-paragraph essay, which has evolved into the five-chapter dissertation and the five-section journal article. Formalism reins supreme. Here’s the link to the original. The essay is included in my new book, Being a Scholar: Reflections on Doctoral Study, Scholarly Writing, and Academic Life. … Continue reading The Five-Paragraph Fetish
Michael Massing: Avoid These Cliches Like the Plague
This post is a recent piece by Michael Massing from the New York Times. Here's a link to the original. The piece consists entirely of a remarkably inclusive list of common cliche's used by writers in English. An impressive display, I think you'll agree. As all writers know, it's hard to avoid using cliches. A cliche … Continue reading Michael Massing: Avoid These Cliches Like the Plague