The home of “things said” by the National Association of Scholars.

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Students Are Not Customers

Peter Wood

Peter Wood argues that higher education entails a hierarchical relationship between students who seeks knowledge and others who teach knowledge, as opposed to a consumer relationship.

Outlaw Literacy

Peter Wood

Detroit's schools barely produce more educationally proficient students than they do juvenile delinquents.

Patriotism Is Not Just for Conservatives

Ashley Thorne

Ashley Thorne responds to a New Yorker article on civics education. 

Academic Social Science and Scientific Literacy

William H. Young

William Young examines the misunderstanding and misuse of scientific concepts by academic social scientists.

Libertarians vs. Progressives: The New Campus Divide

Peter Wood

There is a dramatic divide on campus between students caught up in campus "hook-up culture" and feminist crusaders against "rape culture."

Aspiring Adults Adrift

George Leef

George Leef reviews a new book by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, authors of Academically Adrift.

Prager U: The Government vs. the American Character

Jason Fertig

Explosions in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other welfare programs are changing the American character for the worse—from one that focuses on individual responsibility and giving, to one that focuses on consumption.

On the Problem of Student Mismatching

George Leef

Students are choosing universities for which they are underqualified, opting for "party schools" over more prestigious universities. The market of education allows for customers to pick and choose as they wish.

Students Sue over Discriminatory Funding at the University of Michigan

Marilee Turscak

The University of Michigan backed a student group lobbying for affirmative action, while denying another group funding for a speaker who argued against racial preferences.

The New School’s New Wail: A Visit to Campus Sustainability Day

Peter Wood

At a sustainability festival at The New School, students complacently accepted pseudo-scientific claims and the nationwide campaign to divest holdings from oil companies. 

A Profession at Risk: Teaching Humans in the New Millennium

David Clemens

David Clemens reviews a new collection of essays and asks, "What is real education, and why does it need defending?"

Too Cool for School

Rachelle Peterson

Unschooling is popular, but should it be?

What if the Best College for You is UnCollege?

George Leef

Dale Stephens answers ten questions about his new book Hacking Your Education.

College Hurts Productivity!

George Leef

Robert Weissberg contends that for many students, college just delays the time when they'll have to drop the slovenly habits they've acquired through years in the soft and undemanding world of America's education system.

The Mind of Students

Will Fitzhugh

Students' minds are the main engines of academic work; we should try to learn what's going on inside them, argues Will Fitzhugh.

Getting It Right On Campus

Glenn Ricketts

A new sociological survey explores the world of undergraduate conservatives in the contemporary academy.

Ahmadine-jabbing American Students

Peter Wood

Central Connecticut State University took its students to New York to dine with the dictator.

The "Write" Stuff

Jason Fertig

Employers continue to hire - and complain about - college graduates who can't write well.

They're Not Unteachable

Glenn Ricketts

It's more difficult, but certainly not impossible, to teach today's college students.

For Students: Challenge of Liberty Summer Seminars

Ashley Thorne

This summer the Independent Institute is offering San Francisco Bay-area seminars for high school and college students where they can learn from top scholars about individual liberty, personal responsibility, free markets, civic virtue, and the rule of law.

The Decline of Literate Thought

David Solway

Recalling an evening in Casablanca where he met students "in love with learning," David Solway considers the contrast between them and today's American college students who have little enthusiasm for intellectual growth.

The Worst of Both Worlds

George Leef

Federal student aid programs have given us the worst of both worlds -- rising costs and falling student learning.

Higher Ed and Plato's Cave

George Leef

American higher ed is like Plato's parable of the cave.

Student Says Scrap Student Surveys

Glenn Ricketts

A student journalist states what should be obvious, but usually isn't.

Student Libertarianism -- The Least of Our Worries

George Leef

If college students are trending libertarian, that's nothing to worry about.

Ratcheting Down on Student Ability

George Leef

Difference in results between an "honors" section and regular section is revealing.

Students as Customers: If They Can't Write, They're Still Right

John C. Chalberg

John C. Chalberg examines the consumer mentality that's largely taken over the community college where he teaches.

Students Need Curricular Structure

Oliver Rosenbloom

A student at Brown University argues that too much curricular freedom can cause students to miss out on a well-rounded education.

A Professor Who Encourages His Students to Meet the Challenge

George Leef

Last Friday, the Pope Center published this letter from biology professor Steven Aird to his students, encouraging them to meet the challenge of his course and not expect a passing grade just for showing up. None of the infamous "faculty/student non-aggression pact" for him.

When Adolescent Culture Goes to College

Jonathan Imber

Sociologist Jonathan Imber analyzes the common threads running through recent student protest behavior.

What? We Were Supposed to Use Dictionaries? - No Comment

Glenn Ricketts

Sometimes small things can shed light on larger problems - consider this case, for example.

Did College Create Occupy Wall Street?

Jason Fertig

The actions of the Occupy Wall Street protesters do not help refute the notion that Millennials are the Peter Pan Generation.

Let's All Go to College? Not So Fast

Glenn Ricketts

Retired Rutgers University sociologist, Jackson Toby, examines what role a large cohort of disappointed, unemployed college graduates may have played in driving the recent upheavals in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria. 

How Not to Manage Classroom Management

Glenn Ricketts

Student rudeness and uncouth classroom conduct are the stuff of legend these days, and it's frequently been covered at the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, and elsewhere.

Twenty-Six Year Olds in Diapers?

George Leef

David Bass of the John Locke Foundation argues that the mania for putting as many people as possible in college has given us 26 year-olds in diapers (figuratively speaking). 

Your Comfort is Our Priority

Ashley Thorne

Do students have the right to be comfortable?

Mushrooming Syllabi

George Leef

Thomas Bertonneau discusses the reasons why course syllabi have been mushrooming over the years: students are less and less accustomed to academic work, more inclined to complain if things aren't spelled out for them in minute detail, and apt to engage in plagiarism if written assignments are not carefully crafted to militate against it.

Sometimes a Student Really Takes to Reading

George Leef

In this Pope Center piece, David Clemens writes about that wonderful occurrence -- finding out that a student has been deeply affected by course material and has awakened to the joy of serious reading.  

Can College Have Bad Effects?

George Leef

A reader who commented on my recent assertion that college doesn’t necessarily teach students good traits like responsibility and perseverance brought to my attention a study released in 2008 finding that “college-bound youth report lower levels of criminal activity and substance abuse during adolescence compared to non-college-bound youth. However, levels of drinking, property theft, and unstructured socializing with friends increase among the college-bound after enrollment at a four-year university, and they surpass the ratesof less-educated peers.” Here’s a link to the study entitled “Juvenile Delinquency, College Attendance and the Paradoxical Role of Higher Education in Crime and Substance Use." The upshot seems to be that while many students learn little or nothing of value during their college experience, a fair number of them acquire some bad traits. Put a lot of academically disengaged, fun-seeking kids together and that outcome seems more than believable; almost inevitable, I’d say.

Working Without Pay, Paying to Work

Glenn Ricketts

There's an interesting review over at NRO of Ross Perlin's Intern Nation, a book that examines the growing and almost wholly invisible number of unpaid intern positions that are eagerly staffed by college students or recent college graduates. Many of them are in higher education or are referrals by academic work/study programs. All of them are uncompensated, a sizable number are illegal, and in many instances the interns actually pay to play.

The reviewer, herself a graduate student at Harvard, surveys the landscape of this strange workforce and ponders the social implications of its continued growth. The author, she reports, seems to think there's a revoultion brewing.

We Can't Allow You to Make Your Own Rules

George Leef

According to this Inside Higher Ed piece, the hyper-litigious George Washington U. law professor John Banzhaf is suing Catholic University over its decision to go back to single-sex dorms.

Boys and Girls: No Longer Together at Catholic U

Glenn Ricketts

The president of Catholic University announced yesterday in this Wall Street Journal piece that, starting next Fall, his school would begin a phased return to single-sex dorms for undergraduates.

The Push to Put More Students in College Ignores Human Uniqueness

Ashley Thorne

I posted this as a comment on Richard Kahlenberg's Innovations blog post, "The College-for-All Debate"

Peter Wood and I debated Education Sector's Kevin Carey last week in a four-day online debate through Minnesota Public Radio. The assertion was: The drive to increase college enrollment threatens to lower academic standards.

Understanding the Constitution - No Comment

Glenn Ricketts

A college student's view of how to improve public understanding of the Electoral College

Video: Ben Novak on the Impotency of Student Government

How university student governments went from taking responsibility for and pride in the "spirit of the university" to an attitude of entitlement and parasitism.

Need a Laugh?

George Leef

You probably do, so give this wonderful satire on college students and professors on The Onion a click.

What "Higher Education" Has Come to

George Leef

The current issue of The Chronicle has an illuminating piece by Elayne Clift, an adjunct professor who has taught at several colleges in New England. She writes about the sense of entitlement she finds among her students, leading to complaints about her for demanding too much and outright rudeness from some. "A sense of entitlement now pervades the academy, excellence be damned," she writes. Thinking back on my own experience, she's right. Depressingly right. If you have the paper version, just below Prof. Clift's piece is a letter from Robert Neuman, formerly associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Marquette University. He writes about the sorry decline of educational standards in K-12, commenting, "Instead of trying to increase their knowledge and refine their learning skills year to year, they simply 'glide' from one year to the next without effort." Right again. That's the logical result of having turned education over to government bureaucracy. Without any rewards for excellence, most teachers take the path of least resistance and students gladly go along.

Audience Participation

Will Fitzhugh

Students should take responsibility for their own motivation to learn, not rely on teachers to provide it for them.

Video: Robert Weissberg on Limits to Learning

Robert Weissberg talks about the factors, such as cognitive inability and American schools' emphasis on edutainment, that limit students' capacity to learn.

Mark Bauerlein on the Prolonged Adolescence of the Rising Generation

Mark Bauerlein talks about the anti-intellectualism of new media on this week's Inside Academia.

RE: What Can We Do About Adrift Students?

George Leef

Jason Fertig has written a thought-provoking piece for NAS on the problem identified by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa in Academically Adrift. He quotes from their conclusion.

Are Students Trapped in the Net?

Jason Fertig

Students can resist internet addiction if they learn self-control, argues Jason Fertig. He calls for new attention to trends in internet behavior.

Many College Students Learn Little

George Leef

So says this USA Today article, reporting on the findings of a recent book entitled Academically Adrift. No surprise here. 

Second Guesses in Tucson

Glenn Ricketts

There's a piece in today's Inside Higher Education raising the question of whether more could have been done to prevent the recent shooting rampage in Arizona, that left six dead. In my experience, not untypical of community colleges, I've seen a fair number of students who come because they don't know what else to do, others from dysfunctional family backgrounds, as well as those with drug problems, debt problems, antisocial problems, etc., along with a very tiny few who were a little scary. But I've never seen any potential homicidal psychotics, and haven't figured out how I'd spot one before he actually opened fire.

Duke's President Versus the University's Reputation

George Leef

President Richard Brodhead pleaded with students not to give Duke the reputation as a sex-crazed campus. Perhaps it would do more if the university stopped bringing in a parade of salacious shows and speakers.

Crossing the Rapids: Young Conservatives on College Life

Peter Wood

A review of the new anthology Proud to Be Right.

Getting Diversity Right

Ashley Thorne

NAS contributing author Jason Fertig rejoiced when he read a student's essay on the meaning of diversity and how it contributes to organizations' success. She wrote that diversity should require "a variety of minds" - regardless of skin color. An excerpt from her paper:

People have become too sensitive in today’s society when it comes to diversity. Just because there are more white men with the same color of light skin in one office building does not mean that they do their job better or worse than a diverse office with a mix of races, genders, and skin colors. Diverse organizations should be made up of a variety of minds. Race, color, sex, nationality, and religion should not be the sole determining factors of whether an organization is diverse or not. Different thoughts and opinions are what make organizations work and thrive. Different people coming together and putting their ideas together is how we transform and grow our organizations. Once society begins to understand this, our organizations will not have to worry about discrimination or affirmative action; diversity will come naturally.

"I Regret Taking Gender Studies Courses"...No Comment

Ashley Thorne

An NYU gender studies grad wishes she'd taken politics, history, and literature courses, and learned "more about the world in general, rather than one tiny little sliver of the world." She now realizes, "There

"Campus Culture" AQ Issue in Print

Ashley Thorne

The summer issue of Academic Questions takes the pulse of campus culture and considers how the attitudes formed in college affect broader American culture.


Glenn Ricketts

Steven Rhoads, NAS member and Political Science professor at the University of Virginia, writes [along with co-authors Laura Webber and Diana Van Fleet]at the Chronicle of Higher Education about the "hook-up" sexual culture now so widespread on many college campuses (and high schools as well, according to what one informed local counselor tells me). The subject has been examined here before, when we published Wendy Shalit's call for the recovery of some minimum standard of modesty in the dorms. Good luck with that, since I doubt that there is much on campus these days that hasn't been exposed, practiced, discussed or attempted. Most undergraduates, their sap rising, have long been accustomed to inhabiting the same buildings , the same floors, using the same common bathrooms and, more recently, the same dorm rooms. Beyond that, many undergraduate newspapers feature a regular "sex columnist," who usually doesn't devote a lot of space to modesty. Not much then, seems to stand in the way of the "hookup" culture, and, as Shalit discovered, the burden is on those uneasy with it to remove themselves by choice: there are few institutional props that even encourage, much less accomodate them. We're certainly not in Kansas anymore. Rhoads and his co-authors share Shalit's negative take on casual, random sexual encounters, but offer some intriguing empirical research results rather than simply subjective disapproval. On the basis of extensive survey questionaires, they find that young college women in particular, perhaps to their surprise, are increasingly unedified and troubled when they reflect on their "hookup" experiences. Not quite what they expected, it seems. It's worth reading, especially for the lively comments thread which follows.

Symposium: Student Life

Adam Pascarella

This symposium by eight student writers provides an inside view of campus life today and appeared in the "Student Culture" issue of Academic Questions (vol. 23, no. 2).

New AQ Article Online: Feminism on Campus Today

Ashley Thorne

A new essay on campus feminism is now available online at NAS.org. Authored by Karin Agness, founder and president of the Network of enlightened Women (new friends of NAS), the article will appear in the forthcoming "Student Culture" issue of Academic Questions (vol. 23, no. 2). Agness documents the rise of feminism in higher education and recounts her own encounter with feminism as an undergrad at UVA:

At the end of the tour, I asked her, “Would the Women’s Center consider cosponsoring a group for conservative women?” She looked at me as if I were crazy, chuckled, and said, “Not here.” I thanked her and decided to start a club for conservative women on my own.

Back to the Future: The New Campus Radicals

Jay Schalin

Fighting tuition increases is the innocent face of radical activism on campus. Recent protests led by college students have been rallies to transform civil society according to redistributive principles.

Update: Top Ten Books for College Students...Still No Comment

Glenn Ricketts

Top reading on campus today includes Nightlight, a parody of the bestseller Twilight by Harvard satirists, and Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea.

Florida Students Petition to Make Mandatory Sustainability Course Optional

Ashley Thorne

Florida Gulf Coast University students say mandated eco-propaganda actually fosters anti-environmentalism.

Early Vacations and Entitled Students

Glenn Ricketts

Has self-esteem education gone way too far?

Muppet Yoda or ‘Toon Yoda?

David Clemens

For 30 years, I have used Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now in conjunction with Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to illustrate allusion, ambiguity, irony, anxiety of influence, medium imperatives, and narrative architectonics.  Oddly, the last few times I showed the film, many students were left speechless by the intensity of the experience.  I was puzzled at first but then realized that their distress might stem from something that Apocalypse Now lacks:  CGI. Today’s students are accustomed to computer-generated images and special effects, but CGI and full-motion capture/performance produce weightless pictorials with no substance.  Avatar and 300 are forgettable eye candy, impalpable as a mirage.  But in Apocalypse Now, when the script called for Col. Kilgore to order an airstrike and blow up a jungle with napalm, director Coppola blew up a jungle with napalm.  Coppola also blew up a physical Do Long Bridge and expended many hundredweight of black powder, phosphorous, and fuse on a physical village of Vin Drin Dop.  When a carabao is slaughtered, a real, luckless carabao was slaughtered. This gravity of actuality is shocking to today’s students for whom simulation, simulacra, and virtuality are the “natural” landscape.  Film critic John Podhoretz decries CGI because

the extreme artificiality of the form creates distance between the viewer and the work. The secret about the movies is the way they trick you into believing you are seeing something realistic when you are actually watching something entirely artificial. The key is the recognizable human face and the interaction of the human body with recognizable real-world objects.  Remove those from the picture and you are in the entirely stylized realm of kabuki theater.

Cyberpunk legend William Gibson contends that soon most people will live in a “blended-reality state.”  The “entirely stylized” apparitions of CGI convince me that my students already live there with profound emotional and educational consequences.

Heart of Darkness

David Clemens

Teaching Introduction to Literature, I see a curious new phenomenon:  more and more students complain, bitterly, about how dark the readings are.  I’m not sure what this new critical term means; I employ a canonical set of works including Hawthorne, Melville, Conrad, Kafka, Sophocles, and newer works by Phillip Larkin, Tobias Wolff, and J.G. Ballard.  If such authors do anything, they force us to face existential questions.  Once, students went to college to experience just this sort of perennial questioning.  Today, questioning is a nonstarter having been replaced by what Phillip Rieff called “the triumph of the therapeutic” and, as he predicted, by students preoccupied only with themselves and with attaining a “durable sense of well-being.”  This ends any interest in reading about what Victor Davis Hanson calls “the tragic limitations of human existence and how to meet them and endure them with dignity.” When Larkin observes that

At death you break up:  the bits that were you Start speeding away from each other for ever With no one to see

it does not sit well with the Facebook and Twitter crowd, many of whom are now convinced that advancements in regenerative medicine will indefinitely postpone their senescence.  With death no longer inevitable, they find that a literature based on the tragedy of mortality is both archaic and irrelevant.  In insulated, technological isolation, with electronic “friends” and avatars, Comedy Central and Family Guy, they are more concerned with distraction and are irritated that plot and character create inevitabilities and moral consequences.  That’s just so...dark.

IHS Scholarship for Grad Students Exploring Liberty - Deadline Dec. 31

Ashley Thorne

Our friends at the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) asked us to let our members and readers know about the scholarships (up to $12K!) they award to graduate students through their Humane Studies Fellowship. The deadline to apply is December 31. Here is the announcement from the IHS website:

Humane Studies Fellowships are awarded by the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) to students interested in exploring the principles, practices, and institutions necessary for a free society through their academic work. IHS began the program in 1983 as the Claude R. Lambe Fellowships and in 2009 awarded more than 165 fellowships ranging from $2,000 to $12,000. IHS considers applications from those who will be full-time graduate students, including law and journalism students, or undergraduate juniors or seniors during the 2010-11 academic year and who have a clearly demonstrated research interest in the intellectual and institutional foundations of a free society. Previous award winners have come from a range of fields such as economics, philosophy, law, political science, anthropology and literature. Their research focused on a variety of topics:
  • market-based approaches to environmental policy
  • the legal development of privacy and property rights in 18th-century England
  • the role of patient autonomy in bioethics
  • impediments to economic growth in developing countries
  • the relationship between U.S. presidential politics, fiscal policies, and economic performance
Select winners are invited to present and discuss their research at the annual Humane Studies Research Colloquium and to attend other colloquia throughout the year. Fellows also join a network of more than 10,000 IHS academics committed to the ideas of liberty and intellectual freedom.

"The Humane Studies Fellowship award is a precious gift of time that will enable me to continue with my research projects at a more rapid and effective pace. It makes a great difference."

- Susan Hamilton, Harvard University, HSF Winner

If you have any questions, please visit the frequently asked questions page and read about the application process. If you need assistance after reading the FAQs, please submit a question via our contact form.

Please pass the word on to any graduate students you know who may be interested in this.

Iranian Students: Beaten, Bloody, But Unbowed

Candace de Russy

AOL provides vivid and heartrending coverage of this week's vicious government suppression of the protest of tens of thousands of courageous students. We can but applaud and echo the following sentiments of a leading Iranian opposition leader -- even though the students by far outshine him in bravery :

The most senior opposition supporter in the clerical leadership made a rare public show of backing for the students in comments over the weekend. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president who usually works behind the scenes, warned that “suppression is not the way to run a country.” “Most students are protesting the existing situation,” he said. “My heart breaks when I see that students are suppressed.”

Top 10 Books for College Students...No Comment

Ashley Thorne

Popular campus reads today include Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.

A Liberal Professor Humors His Conservative "Whipper-Snapper" Students

Ashley Thorne

Via Campus Reform, I read an interesting post today on a blog called Hugo Schwyzer. The author, an anonymous "community college history and gender studies professor, animal rights activist and Episcopal youth minister with a passion for Christ, chinchillas, trail running, poetry, gender justice, country music, and reconciling contradictions," writes about his realization that some of the most engaging and articulate students he has taught have been politically conservative. Of course, his admission is tempered with lots of qualifying remarks to his liberal colleagues ("Not for one second will I concede the intellectual superiority of conservative ideas or values"), but he sees conservative students as the ones filling the good role of "counter-cultural rebelliousness" on campus today. Even through his bless-your-heart condescension, the professor clearly enjoys his repartees with such students. He views conservative students who "come from turbulent and impoverished backgrounds,"  and "'ought' to be reliable Democrats," but "become infatuated with the Republican gospel of stern self-reliance and the 'up by your bootstraps' mentality" as misguided and ultimately arrogant. But he still loves having them in class.


Sustainability is a Waste: 10 Reasons to Oppose the Sustainability Movement on Your Campus

Peter Wood

College students hear a lot about sustainability these days, but do you know what it really means?

School Lit: Should Students Pick Their Own?

Ashley Thorne

What do you think?

Millennium Falcon: The Bias Birds of Prey

Ashley Thorne

The University of Arizona's Millennial Student Project targets "unconscious bias."

Slouching Toward the Therapeutic University: Part 2

Tom Wood

How the "students as customers" attitude and the self-esteem movement undermine good education.

Berkeley in the Sixties

Tom Wood

With its excitement and passion in intellectual life, perhaps it was the Golden Age of the American university.

Champlain Ethics

Peter Wood

How the University of Vermont waters down character education

How the Dorms Are Politicized: The Case of the University of Delaware

Adam Kissel

This paper was presented by Adam Kissel at a panel at the National Association of Scholars general conference in Washington, DC, on January 11, 2009. Kissel is the director of the Individual Rights Defense Program at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

Peer at the Rear

Ashley Thorne

Satire on the professor-student relationship

Secrets, Secrets Are No Fun

Ashley Thorne

The college-driven trend to divulge says something about higher education's vision of itself as therapeutic.

Making Allowances

Ashley Thorne

Want to keep students on the track to academic success? Pay them!

She Do the Plagiarists in Many Voices: An Anthropologist's New Rationale for Academic Dishonesty

Peter Wood

It seems the Internet generation of students has a novel excuse for plagiarism: "I was exploring the ever-changing version of my self." In a world of Wikipedia, YouTube, Blogspot, and Second Life, can authorship be "fluid"?

The Georgia Diversion: Faculty Aren't Biased, Students Are, Says the Peach State. Really?

Peter Wood

The University System of Georgia conducted a "Survey on Student Speech and Discussion," which has been heralded as proof that the U.S. doesn't have a problem with bias in the classroom. But we have our doubts. Clouding the results is a mistaken substitution of "tolerance" for freedom of speech.

Are Students Customers? No

Peter Wood

NAS Executive Director Peter Wood replies to Ed Cutting with an opposing view, that "the 'customer service' model of higher education is an illusory path to real academic reform."

Are Students Customers? Yes

Ed Cutting

One of our members, Ed Cutting, argues that students should be treated with a customer service model based on the free market. After all, higher education can't get much worse, can it?

UD Faculty, Students Stand Up Against Res Life Proposal

The University of Delaware Faculty Senate held debate over the proposed new residence life program, a repackaged version of what was formerly known as "the treatment."