Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Nate Silver's data analyses have become popular for a reason, and here's a new one I like on the "decline" of liberal arts.

In my structure of higher education course, we discuss the putative decline of liberal arts college, liberal arts majors, and the liberal arts in general - all three separate issues that tend to be conflated, even by the scholars studying them. Silver is focused on the second of those, the number of students majoring in the liberal arts, and he succinctly points out that about the same number of young people are going to college and getting English degrees as 40 years ago. It's just that more people are going to college, and we have pretty good reason to believe they are a different population of students. He doesn't unpack that notion very much, but expanding access and intensifying credentialing induces students who might not otherwise go to college to go, and they make different sets of choices. Students aren't converting away from English; we're gaining new vocational students.

I'm going to add this piece to reading list for structure for the fall semester.

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