Small group summaries:
· Mimi, she/her; Sam, he/him
· Alumni- Oberlin History, Blodgett
o roles of learning and labor, integration of white female students and black students
o myth & reality perpetuate Oberlin’s radicalness
o Ivy $ from slavery, Oberlin $ from black students’ tuition
· Adams & Jefferson
o difference of opinion re: collegiate culture
o “virtue” gained from higher ed.
o difference of opinion based on time period?
· Ebony & Ivy, Wilder
o slavery necessary à still using unjust labor
o labor, labor, labor
o institution as playground, labor done by enslaved people
o how to transition out of slavery model AND out of learning and labor model?
o Berea College maintained learning and labor… why did it work there?
o Warren Wilson, Deep Springs, etc.
o ch. 2
§ building character at college
§ critical thinking?
§ learning passively/actively
o ch. 3
§ university/college hierarchy—we are at the bottom as a small liberal arts college
§ scientism, scientific research—questions in humanities are just as important as questions in the sciences, so why are scientific questions and methods applied here?
· Cole (provost @ Columbia)
o “core values” of higher (research) education
o patriotic, idealist, leaves out $$ aspect…
o wild & strange view of academic history and freedoms
o defines this history as superior and inevitable (Whig history)
o creating public memory, ulterior motives, agenda?
o “disinterestedness,” descriptions of what teachers should be pushing for
o rewriting/leaving out less successful histories
meat of discussion:
· CORE VALUES
o core values… who do these values serve?
o no universal truths
o timeless values idea is out of touch
o is Cole setting out ideals like Jefferson, or describing how the system currently works, as he sees it?
o enlightenment & founding principles
o Jefferson’s words are specifically for his vision of UVA; Cole’s are more generic, not specific to any institution
o re: writing while higher ed. is under attack… how does his approach compare w/ Delbanco’s?
§ C: American universities as the envy of the world, core values have led to this; not a lot of nuance
§ D: laments loss of focus on character, but still thinks knowledge is important
§ C. seems to support “globalization” of education, “international communities”
· spreading OUR system so that everyone can reach a common goal
o would you leave any of these values off? what is the GOAL of higher education?
§ these are perfectly good values, we just don’t actually hold them
§ à role of myth?
· college is a business, doesn’t just borrow business ideas à dismissal of $$ issues doesn’t make sense
· these are things (values?) you need, not that you create; instrumentality for…? who knows?
· equating university w/ free speech
· professors are the focus, not the university
· talking, but things don’t get done
· is college not the real world?
o we separate ourselves from the world… importance of learning from people who aren’t like us
o not bringing anything into the world
o Oberlin as a sample of the real world; not so much a bubble as microcosm
· what is the relationship between college & learning?
o tension between creating people with skills vs. life of mind approach… why are these treated as mutually exclusive?
· this class is personal to many of us, how did we personally come to these readings?
· is higher ed. a bubble or a reflection of society?
· time for reflection is missing
· learning for the sake of learning means different things to different people, plays different roles among priorities
· have to fight for change in higher ed. (ß history lesson)
· civil discourse: no wasted discussion as long as we try to listen and learn
· disabilities in education are a focus for many in this class
· bubble residential college experience comes from a history of exclusion--is it worth it? can it function without that exclusion?
o can we have the personal connection in a democratic educational system?
· what’s the point of this class?
· talking to people about Oberlin experience, ask how has it affected us, how has it prepared us?
· different missions of different kinds of higher ed.
o importance of undergrad ed.?
o how do you replicate the personal nature of the Oberlin experience at a bigger place?
· Oberlin history---we can have myths and truths, but ultimately both are important in understanding the past and forming the future
o Not all myths about Oberlin history are true, but Oberlin is still a progressive place and thrives off of its history
o Chapter 2---college is meant to grow character
§ It helps with critical thinking
· Has been important since the Puritans (concept of grace)
§ Throughout American college history, the truth is unknown and questionable
· Focus on philosophy, dead language literature, religion, etc. (NOT SCIENCE)
o Chapter 3---over time, colleges have turned into research-based universities
§ Has been an increase in college’s interaction with the economy
§ Scientific research is easier to see as progress
· Science moves forward and has tangible results; humanities often have no answer, creating the illusion of minimal progress
§ Although there is a push towards universities, let’s not give up on liberal arts
· Ebony and Ivy---schools needed slave labor to economically thrive
o Why was Oberlin the opposite?
§ Ivy’s used slave labor to build their school, feed their students, clean the halls, ect., greatly profiting from the institution
§ Oberlin pushed for an abolitionist agenda because it needed the funding from all possible communities
· Plus idea of learning and labor made it more accessible for individuals
· Cole---colleges and universities have always been a hub for academic freedom
o The American university has been so successful because we have important core values
§ Universalism, organized skepticism, creation of new knowledge, free and open communication of ideas, disinterestedness, free inquiry and academic freedom, working for the “common” good*, international communities, peer review system, governance by authority, intellectual progeny, vitality of the community*
· Believe that some of these are important and valuable for a thriving academia---peer review system, organized skepticism, etc.
· Working for the “common” good and vitality of the community
o Are we actually working towards this? How conscious are individuals (particularly professors and those part of the system) to these values?
o Is this an accurate depiction of the history of universities?
§ Likely too idealized; missing many of the struggles of history; only talking about those we are good and passionate about their jobs
§ Where are the struggles? Is this too idealistic?
o What is Cole’s purpose in writing this article?
§ Attempt at spreading American education values globally?
§ Trying to promote strong, research-based universities?
§ Trying to display what a good professor/university is?