Monday, August 13, 2012

Patterson and Tocqueville on Higher Ed

If I've got the gist of it, this article is essentially explaining why MOOCs are not going to revolutionize higher education.   The university is and will continue to be essentially an artistocratic institution that was kind of saved from extinction by the development of professional schools (over the last 100 years) that balanced the American desire for practicality with the impractical liberal arts education offered by universities.  Patterson says that the on-line courses will just add another component to what a university can be much as distance learning did:
Professional schools succeeded with distance learning because of high student motivation.  Law enforcement and continuing education succeeded, when it succeeded, because of the high accessibility and low intensity of the coursework. In either case, the courses added another purpose to the university in America rather than replace the university altogether. Online education will do the same. Universities will offer online courses, MOOCs and more conventional varieties. They will serve the existing purpose of marketing the university "brand" as tech-savvy, relevant, and engaged in student learning.

  This is by no means a summary of the article, so have a look for yourself!


Retrouvaille Your Marriage

Here's an interesting article on the perils of divorce among older couples.  While the overall divorce rate has remained stable since 1980 (apparently at about 40-50 % for first marriages but higher for second and third marriages), the divorce rate among couples over 50 has doubled.  Some reasons?
Health problems, medications, and menopause can sour moods and wither the libido. Once reliable social circles may disband as children graduate and spouses approach retirement. Crises may arise with elderly parents or with grown children.
Author Mary Jo Pedersen has a noteworthy comment about marriage:
 “Marriage isn’t supposed to make you happy, it’s supposed to make you married. Marriage creates an environment in which you can choose happiness and you can create a wonderful home and friendship that will bring you happiness. But the institution itself—like everything, it’s what you do with it.”
This is a readable article that makes some good points and has a funny anecdote at the end about how one couple, on the brink of breaking up, went to Retrouvaille, a Catholic marriage program that offers retreats and counseling.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What Is A Saxifrage?

Here is another novel idea in the quest to revamp higher education.  I don't know that the curriculum would be my first choice, but I hope the school is successful.

Dress Code Equality For All

I wasn't sure whether to tag this Inside Higher Ed Quick Take 'For Fun,' 'Weasels' or 'Homosexuality.'  Perhaps a new category, 'Going to Hell in a Handbag' as some put it,  would be required here. 

I reproduce the article in its entirety:
The University of Oxford, responding to concerns about equity for transgender students, has dropped the dress code that has been in place for students at some formal academic events, BBC News reported. The current rules, which will end August 4, require male students to wear a dark suit, black shoes and a white bow tie and a plain white shirt and collar under their black gowns. Women must wear a dark skirt or trousers and a white blouse. The rules were criticized as forcing transgender students into traditional gender roles.

Religious Persecution or Just All in a Day's Work for a Health Director?

Wednesday, August 1st was the first day of the HHS Mandate as it applies to some institutions.  The Cardinal Newman Society sees it as the first day of  'religious persecution'  while Inside Higher Ed more sanguinely views the implementation of the Mandate as requiring college 'health centers' to adjust.

After wading through this article, and admittedly not completely grasping all the ins and out of a college health center adapting to the requirements of the Mandate, the general conclusion I reached is that college health centers exist to hand out contraceptives and to provide pap smears along with other euphemistically-termed 'preventive' services.  As one health director says,  “Our mission is to keep students on campus. It’s to ensure that the student is going to be successful in their higher education, and one of the ways that we achieve that mission is by maintaining their health."    I don't get the impression he's talking about preventing the common cold.   As I commented in the comments section of the article, these health centers seem like little more than mills that foster unrestrained sexual activity on college campuses, with the girls (most enter college still in their teens) expected to assume the responsibility for 'prevention.'  Another perk of the liberating feminist movement.