tv After Words CSPAN December 21, 2014 9:00pm-9:53pm EST
the miseducation of the american easily to attend the way to a meaningful life. in it he argues the most sought-after universities in the country fall short of providing the key components of a good education every student should have come a lesson on how to think i maybe created and maintained goals in life after the university education. this program is about an hour. >> host: i think i'm the students and families, it's a perfect contribution to the literature and i'm grateful for it and the nation should be grateful. >> i will start with the more difficult one. it appears you didn't receive tenure at yale. he didn't acknowledge that in the book and i'm wondering why
not. >> guest: that is a question that comes often from the fellow academics who wonder whether the book is a product of the sound great. it's rate. it's because of people in the ivy league i didn't want to make my story part of it. the book is for the general readers. no one of any sense that as a junior faculty member at yale experts to be. i'm not angry, i left academia because i wasn't able to get a job somewhere else and the main reason for that is they are drawing up because. that is part of the things i talk about in the book.
>> host: i certainly understand that this circumstance for many professors >> host: by matt georgetown, so it is the university that i had a particular interest in the domain and you only mentioned one catholic university in chile so i was wondering if you think that any of them are delete or you don't have that domain or the same kind of student bodies that the ivy league have. >> guest: i do mention a fair number of school in the courses talking about what the students have written to me and what the fellow professors have told me about things in their schools but to a certain extent it is a bit arbitrary. it's not that i think the universities in which georgetown, notre dame are clearly among its not that i think things are radically different because it is old one system and the main aspect of
the system is the kind of students that are being produced before they even get to college. it's about the admissions process but as you know i have a sort of have a paragraph that i say in some ways religious colleges and that would include the prestigious catholic universities do things better because they are still paying attention to the higher purposes of the higher education. it seems to be one of the ones that is most annoying, ivy league professors. if not most leaders but people who are just incensed at the idea that the word religious and the word could be in the same sentence. >> host: i would tend to think that they have a value added and what they do and i think that i am trying to shape students for life and i tell parents for example you've given us a jam as any of these schools have and we
polish it with a conscience and responsibility to get back into the ability to lead and that's what we do and -- >> guest: they were start when they come in and they have a georgetown degree or a harvard degree. >> guest: the reaction in the book is simple paraphrasing many of the most elite schools aren't getting students i would call what i would call a real education which is what you just described.
unless we do get a real education, but who wants a real education these days. this is about jobs. this is about the career and the return on investment. it's not just about your job. it's an increasingly difficult argument to make and one of the reasons i wrote the book to try to push back against this intensely pragmatic and i would say self-defeating way pragmatic in the anecdote of the story of a student of ours that was a history major and was presented before middle of the board of georgetown.
what are you going to do and she expressed how it would probably stay with her for her life. it was very eloquent. if i have to for the professional fallback which is neuroscience, and that is often the kind that i'm sure that you saw come and and buy a and bite you is i agree with you completely you should pursue your passion. maybe don't do it. so, for example you can be a history major or english major but also i put in a minor in business for college students so that you can know how to be a spreadsheet because no matter what you're doing you know what i do. i'm giving management and i'm seeing the budgets. i am an academic by training. so i haven't given up the core
of who i am. but it's helpful but it's not something the liberal arts students should pursue under. >> guest: i hope i'm clear about this in the book i do not want students to think that the world is going to hand them a living. there is a difference between compromise. figure out what you want to do and what you care about the most and then figure out hopefully with the help of college how you are going to translate that into the career that can sustain you. but it's also -- it's also important for students to know that it isn't just about the first job and that if you look at people that have been successful especially people that have been successful it is almost never a linear path and that is why i say it's what you
don't get from the technical education or business minor. the is your new -- to take the students across the curriculum because they are learning different ways of saying therefore they are better at each of those ways because they have learned all of the others. you contribute this to a certain agility and flexibility. and distinguish between the job and the career and at last sample of more than one. most people will have more than one career. you certainly have multiple jobs the measurement is exclusive to be the first job and it's probably not an accurate measurement.
>> guest: there is a study that says that. for me these are four years that you could export a range of issues that have a terrific value that we will inform you and shape you of who we are. we couldn't agree more on that. it's true they are on a treadmill to get to the next thing. the contemplation of the action you step back and we have a center in campus where we take
them and it doesn't mean a religious retreat. there are some available but it's simply getting away for a weekend and reflecting on what do you do here. why are you in college and what does it mean independent of the pressure from your peers and you have someone to guide the conversation but it's also also away from your family and why some of those weekends have to figure out i need to do this more often. i need to reflect. i believe that they are transformative and that you are doing it. i do wish that i had known about it because less than what i do say is i don't have a lot of practical suggestions to make because i don't know you as an individual but the one thing that i say is you need to step away whether it means a gap before college or whatever it is. it is precisely the act of getting away from the peer that peer pressure or the parental
pressure that the incessant busyness. it's supposed to be about and of itself. it's insofar as i blame the colleges and it goes back to the admissions process and how it creates the adolescence that is all about jumping through the next hoop and then secondarily unlike what you just described in georgetown many colleges and i think that many especially the colleges. it must be because we let them in. then we don't need to do any of that work of getting into the
reflective about whether education is for a. it's what is the meaning of all of this. it is a foundational question and we have to go back to it again and again. we find the answer to pragmatism diffused and all of the interest of doing many things. it's easier to do it in our place than it might be in other places. i'm not sure that the double major. so for example i also pursue and do something about yourself and the passion people don't do it as much anymore in the privileged years you should never get back.
pursue your passion and one major and do the second major of the one that is going to set you up for a professional career. i'm fine with that being being an english major or biology major. it is a neat thing when you are 20-years-old at that it should be the foundation of what you do in life. again, compromises the last beta. i've made compromises and i'm sure you've made compromises. the world will demand that a view but we need to start that i
need to get away from the word passion because it could become such a cliché in the students feel like i don't know what that feels like and i prefer the word purpose because that unites the inner width of the outer. what do you care about and what do you see in the world that needs your attention. to the extent that it's possible and this would differ in the different circumstances that is what should motivate what you do afterwards. so i don't like this bifurcation that is exactly where research get into trouble. we think life is over here and work is over here. so the idea is to find the kind of work if you can it's going to reflect what you care about most deeply. and it's also what the common sense tells us that it's also going to lead to the most successful vocational terms in the kind of existence. if you want to get out of bed and do what you're doing and it's meaningful to you, they will also tell us that the two
main constituents are connected with others and a sense of purpose, which for us in the 21st century generally means purposeful work. >> guest: this is true something that is purposeful and meaningful work. it's good or maybe excellent but should be doing something that is worthwhile. doing well and we would hope shifting a little bit to these ideas in the book my head is filled with things i want to ask you and one is the inflation issue i think in all schools across the board but not necessarily every school. so several clearly have the heavy created inflation. we want a differentiation between who is outstanding and who is good and we aren't really getting their.
they are high for everybody. how do i know, but i am outstanding. if we are all on the scale it's interesting they said that ended the consequence if it was down they say we didn't mean that but it's an interesting argument because increasingly a large number of students are gaining honors. many of them coming with highly qualified, it's not unusual but race training that a little bit and the students are saying it's for graduate school profession. your take? >> guest: first of all, it's an interesting thing because as you know, princeton went back and tried this and despite the
fact that apparently there was not evidence that students were so freaked out by the that possibility they insisted that they go back to the grave what is especially interesting is that it resonates with the sense that i had as a professor and it had speaking to students since then that they want honesty. they know that the system has become so cynical about their education because it's always been so much of a videogame, just get to the next level. and because they know one of the things that is driving the great inflation is the ridiculous business into the way the extracurricular has a available space for their college or high school how do the students feel about that and that you are doing ten different things, sports, musical instruments and you still have to carry the workload you are putting more
and more pressure on the professors grade but this is hope of what contributes and the sense that it is into getting real isn't getting real feedback and we don't know where they stand and we send the students to be surprisingly grateful for the honest feedback which i try to give them which i think is honest. >> host: they are very good inspiring teachers but also demanding. and i found the students thought the best course they had. >> guest: but again it is an exception. it's an increasing problem and it speaks to the fact that learning is not at the top of the agenda in college anymore. it can be a problem.
people also talk about the mutual bond aggression pact. it's an illusion among the professors sometimes. >> they are not to teach but to do research. it takes more time to get some want to in a band does a b. because then you have to help them get better. >> host: that's the important part is helping them get better. for example the whole we write is a good idea i think. that's how you learn. but it takes a lot of investment in the students to say if that is the primary mission is to enhance the student learning but if most places have permission in the scholarship it is a challenge. >> guest: they've been in high american higher ed for a long
time. we could talk about the academic job market forces that are making things worse as the and is the students shift attention away from the curricular is it becomes more and more of a problem. no one's primary interest is what is going on in the classroom. the students want to be in the club were by and check us out to eat krispy six internship -- >> host: the people in the classroom. >> guest: but the direction is that way. >> host: speaking of the curricula, what do you think of the efforts to go through the technology and what's happening you don't address it much but i'm sure you would have some opinions. >> guest: i have a few choice
paragraphs. i tried to cover a lot of ground to describe what is a large system that needs to be in the inventory but i can't talk about everything and i don't want to try to talk about everything. >> look, as a general rule there are ways technology can enhance learning. americans prefer to solve with a machine and a human being. we prefer technology to teachers or psychologists or sometimes even parents. education is a human relationship. it always has been and i think it always will be. i don't think we will ever be able to teach people as well by turning them loose on a computer program then we will one on one in small classrooms with teachers who are rewarded for teaching. people think they can solve the
problem in college. governors, politicians think that they can solve the problem with the rapid online courses and technology and exigencies of scale. i think it's a huge mistake and has you know the completion rates are in the single digits even among the people that that finish they tend to be older people that already have college. >> host: a majority of them have a degree already. >> guest: it is in the democratization of education. and making it more accessible to people. it's not just that they are doing it for the personal enrichment. they've been to college so they already know how to teach themselves. the whole point of college is to learn how to teach her self that you can't do it by yourself.
>> host: i had a transfer to georgetown and a wonderful young woman and she had come from a school that was should i say not elite but it was a very ordinary kind of place. she was very bright and she'd gotten into several important schools that didn't have the money. she went to another school thinking a good student can get a good education anywhere and she found it not to be true. it's been a much richer environment for the pedagogy and also i think for the peer group sessions with and they are actually serious of education. they are ambitious but they work hard and they do their reading and all that. it makes a difference in the environment if you want to be academically inclined this is okay. this is the culture. this wasn't a good thing to be academically inclined. i think another raise they do
have something to offer to the students. >> guest: i'm not going to romanticize as it exists now. maybe open up solution is to be found of the public higher education to take once again the commitment of the ones made to have high-quality low or no-cost higher education of the public higher education. but yes, the kids have trouble graduating because they are close to classes. classrooms are in holes and there are no students teaching the systems. the e. lee to private schools are very resourced institutions and they can offer students the opportunity. i would even say they always offer students the upper committee to get a great education but in a lot of
schools and exotic georgetown isn't one of them but a lot of the schools are like this. you have to fight to get the kind of education at the school is supposedly set up to give you because the peers are not interested in what's going on in the classroom into the professors by and large do not want to take the time. people have written about it. you have to fight your institution in first that's ridiculous and second of all there are schools where that is not the case. they don't have the word university edifice where the emphasis is more on teaching and they defend the liberal arts. they are largely public campuses and to meet us with a college should look like. they feel supported by the
institution and the peers to get the good education not like a sucker because you should major in the economy and go. the research university gets both in the sense that they get access to high-quality research and high-power institution enough way and hopefully they get the personal attention and the teaching that is required in the college environment. it is a balance but there are some places to try to do both. >> the university of chicago that has a great reputation for the intellectualism and i think about the fact that chicago seems to be departing from the mission and i don't know if you want to get into this that -- >> guest: i hear also there is
an institutional convergence partly driven by the u.s. news and various other practical factors or not practical factors where more and more colleges are looking more and more like each other. and they are converging on that research university model in the worst sense where it's all that research humanity gets shrunken until they bring in the money. >> host: if was two thirds graduate and wondered undergraduates which was a high-powered research. it's bit more in the undergraduate education and probably done a better job in recent years. but i think that you better be singly focused when you go there with what you were going to be doing maybe through the other schools, too. >> guest: i don't know if we want to talk about it in particular but we have seen it
differently. it's a deserved reputation for the intellectual experience like the graduate school for undergraduates. that's what they seem to be moving away from because a lot of the kids don't want it and they changed their missions policy and they dropped their acceptance rate very far into their happy about it. but it seems like they've made it their own unique place. that's saying something unique. it's not easy to do to be distinctive. it can be distinctive style and some places are. but unique is probably not a term that we would use in higher education because we do look alike many of us. >> host: asked maybe you could explain this better because we were at the managed and that it would seem that you would want to have a differentiated product. >> host: because we are in washington, d.c. there is a
wonderful institution and here is where we are in the value structure that we are very clear about. one of the phrases that the school is men and women that we expect to get back as part of the culture. this is to give to the common good is what we expected. when they leave us seniors, they understand what that means. as a consequence of the biggest employers as teach for america. do service for two years and some will stay in the education domain but others move on to other things. the postgraduate world would you advise sometimes for example i advise students that want to have a particular passion this is happening more and more for the leading industry they want to go to hollywood and be a screenwriter. that's okay. i say go for a couple of years into perimeters around it if you get coffee for director eight years later you've got to get out of it.
but at 22 you should experiment. you should be free to do things and not feel that you have to go to get your nba or your jd. it will depend on what is dictated and it may be the student code. but listen, you haven't experienced the world just until you get out of college. how are you going to figure out what he wanted in the we wanted in the world until you have some exposure to it? i agree with that and especially if we are talking about a law degree or business degree, i think that it is much better than when you were a little bit older. >> host: as you don't want to take the risk when you have a mortgage and your family or responsibility but when you are 22 -- >> guest: were taught to be risk adverse from the very beginning because they know they have to get a perfect gpa to get into the namebrand college.
i'm not the first person to write about this. it's one of the main things people have identified and it's something we really need to worry about. one quick thought we are preparing students for an increasingly structured job market economic world with an increasingly structured education. >> host: how has it changed in the last 30 years? >> guest: it contains its own melancholy. the most important thing to say about it is satisfied at this point only 25% of people that teach in college are professors. the ten year track record the
postgraduate student or a very large class as you know are full-time bond tenure and this is sort of a shadow, this is a way schools have gotten around the tenure without abolishing the tenure. a lot of these people are great teachers. the the longer-term contract employees are often developed teachers on campus.
we already had the second faculty. we need to give them the visibility for the career, the commitment for the institution to some degree and they will be more deeply committed to do and we are deeply committed to you. the other part of the research i would like to still direct that they would be doing both you have a two-tiered structure and university in that area and sometimes those are the research stars never see the majority of the students they are harder to get into and they don't graduate only and they know they are there and don't have access to
it you pg-13 truck after he reelected and graduate level and not exclusively one or the other only when you want a graduate seminar. i get back. only doing that and assuring the enterprise and saying others can take care of it but it won't take care of itself. >> we are with our college students. >> they've been pushing in the other direction. what has caused this faculty? it it as is a cost-saving measures for the universities. as i understand there's a segment of the budget that has grown at the slowest rate its institutional cost, i'm sorry and structural. in other words, teaching 20 years ago the football stadium, the football coach, the football
team, the fancy dormitories, the debt on the money that you had to borrow to pay for all these things. it has to do with the move to a consumer model. we see them as customers. what is going to appeal to them to get the tuition dollars to the campus. these are long-term structural problems. they are also problems people have been aware of for a long time and it seems all they do is talk about them. >> host: but also as an administrator you are providing a large infrastructure for people. basically providing a city where the profession doesn't require that you passed the military that you have to house your people and feed them and all these things. it doesn't have to be elegant elegant but it has to be present. >> host: that creates the culture to be in it. >> guest: you have the
cafeteria. the adjunct professor for some people they said is one of the costs we go beyond inflation for our increasing sometimes but it's a very resource intensive enterprise to run for most schools end up spending more per student than they charge charge in tuition even though most people wouldn't know that and people also don't know that the real cost per student for about two years. the actual sticker price has been almost flashed for ten
years. it's continued quite significantly because we are descending then and i guess some of say i work at a state regulator but not a state supported university that has changed very much since the land grant university time because we have the high-quality universities and they are underfunded and it's difficult and therefore it's on the backs of the out-of-state students. >> guest: this is the most important issue from the taxpayer to the student and family so instead of taxes we have student debt and of course not because they want something for nothing.
it's what happens to them as taxpayers. this is the dilemma also where you live with a very fine public university. they have access to what we paid for. i would argue and question the idea that there are any states that are supporting the state universities in the extent that they should. look at the diversity of california. it is downsizing in the basic tuition and the other state infrastructures especially large structures that are very capital intensive. that's why we are at the elite
schools. >> guest: it is a crazy stampede tickets to the schools as long as they can provide so that they come from the somewhat advantaged background has access to this education which for me is a moral value i think. shame on us if they are not open to all students and bought the economic elite. >> guest: at the same time be a very low admissions rates. so they know if i can get the kid in the senate will be taken care of. that is the whole point. can you get in him and i don't think we have the same pressure that they could send their kids wherever for nothing. not just for a thousand dollars a year. my slogan ibb china have a slogan of 100 harvard equipment. we need to build 100 berkeley's.
we need to wear three of those in every state so we don't have every high school kid in america competing to get into one of 12 schools. >> host: some of them you can go for free if you get in. so you want greater access but you also want standards create a >> guest: that's why you don't want us to rely on them. the low income who doesn't get into harvard it's amazing it's like three or 4% of their student body are kids from the bottom quarter so we are not talking about a lot of kids. >> host: jiffy program for we have a program for an additional scholarship and mentor program so when they come they come they are mentored by the students that are there and alumni in the social etiquette and negotiating
an environment that is different than the one they came. they are bright enough to do well but there are other cultural issues that are challenging and we need to provide for event. you want them to have a good and a positive experience that you have to provide a lot for them. and i think we have responsibility to do that. >> guest: it's admirable that you are doing that and other places are doing that. we are never going to be able to educate the low income kids as enough of them as the private school. we need to be -- it is just a question of scale. we need to expand capacity. >> guest: there are hundreds
of thousands who never go to college at all. they need to be able to go to their state institution for, you know, for a nominal cost and get a good education. >> host: some have taken the route of doing the community college route and then two years at a much reduced cost transfer to the university. it's a good policy ideas. >> guest: yes. i agree. and in a few locations i think is a tennessee that is trying or has already installed a policy of free community college. so again it is the beginning of returning to the public eye here education. it's going to cost a little extra money. but whether we want to spend the money on as a society? >> host: it's slipped a little bit in the international rankings but it's still desirable.
>> host: >> guest: it is the best in the world and people from around the world to send their kids about our college completion rate used to be first and now it is 12. >> host: if you take how long it takes to complete college yale is four years virtually everybody but me but he also displayed for six years. part of that is not access to the right classes, they they have to work while had to work while they are there and it is just a burden. they are funding issues. >> host: there's not enough classes for everybody and that is an institution issue and then there are the economic challenges. >> guest: the fact that there are not enough classes is also. you stand no. meaty. i mean if you allow the nature to be the major exclusively in both direct others there will never be enough room for the econ majors as they go in that direction and there is a fine
discipline. it's not what everybody should be studying. everybody should have a wide variety. >> guest: it's important if we are going to talk about that and emphasize that it's not just humanitarian that have been suffering because everyone is being told to take the pragmatic it's all kinds of pressures including the president saying don't major in the history. they are being steered into the econ business and engineering. >> host: the national foundation and support of the fun that a lot of the research to start the basic sciences and it's very competitive, so it's hard to maintain a good science faculty who are able to support the research enough and scale although we've seen a significant uptick particularly
in biology. very high. they had 12,000 applicants, 2,000 of whom were from biology. >> guest: biology is setting people on. that might be the path it's that's also the path to a lot of interesting. that hasn't suffered so much but some others have declined somewhat for the physics was never the most popular major in any campus. but if you look at what they call the physical sciences which is the science biology, there's been a huge drop and get part of it is because we are not funding basic research but that's more of a problem. again again if that's not making the investments that are going to keep us prosperous, strong and free a generation down the line. >> host: when are you going to run for congress so that we can
change that dynamic granted that we would like to put it is a political solution and we probably don't have the clout. i think five years ago, three years ago no one would have foreseen the movement towards the minimum wage towards raising the minimum wage indicating the kind of traction that it's gotten now in the last election just passing several red states. i think free or low-cost higher education needs to be put on the agenda right next to raising the minimum wage as a way of addressing the enormous problem with any quality as we finally woken up to in this country and we know now that the debt bubble that was the end of the prosperity has burst everyone is looking around the room and realizing we have a huge problem of inequality and social mobility settings raising the
minimum said raising the minimum wage and it means making education accessible again. >> host: >> guest: is an organization called revealing america's promise. it's terrible because it doesn't tell you what it's about but was started by a former aide to vice president gore and some of his political friends and this is their agenda. free public higher education. so the movement is starting. i want more people to know that. i am a writer. i'm not good to be a politician or organizer. but organizing is what people need to do and again i want parents to make the connection between what happens to them as taxpayers and as tuition painters and to realize that they have a stake in resurrecting public higher ed. i think if anyone is going to make changes it's good to be parents acting as a group because they are fed up as many of them are with what's happening with their kids with
the kind of crazy pressure their kids are suffering under. there's a documentary called race to nowhere that's been circulating in communities for a long time. it gets shown in high schools, parents come and talk about it. it was made by a woman in the area that is actually a lawyer and her inside comment is when her fourth-grade son was complaining of a stomachache because he was so stressed about how much homework he had. she said you know, there is a problem here. so that's what i'm talking about. i think that is where the change will come if it comes at all. >> host: it comes to the economically advantaged neighborhoods. it would be other things if the stomach was empty. >> guest: absolutely. she's a lawyer. the schools are failing and on the other side if you take your argument, what do you defund and
when you redirect the funds funds into public education? >> guest: i would rate texas. i'm just old enough to remember the ronald reagan revolution. nobody in their right mind would ever have imagined that that could have happened ten years before it happened. but they would drop to rates the rates from 72, 28 or 35. the one thing that i am certain about with respect to future is that we can't be certain about the future and things are possible today like raising the minimum wage will be possible tomorrow. there are plenty of things whether it is the present of defense or corporate welfare. it goes up to the top 1% of the top 10% and that includes me and you and many of the people that we now have a historical high.
we are talking about a trillion dollars a year from the 90% of the top 10%. that is the tax target that i think we need to go after he and i don't think we'll ever have enough money for the public needs until we do. >> host: it is a dilemma and it's very difficult to find everything at once. >> host: they will still charge hefty tuition and they will be robust and have a higher demand to read and i just don't think that is going away. >> guest: it's pertinent to america's. they are in the private security forces, the private closing universities and they go to yale. many of them go to yale. i know this is a cliché but
isn't this the country that we want to live in. i certainly think most people don't because most people are at the short end of the stick. >> host: some of the people are in that position. all of them have a right to be in the position. i don't want to disenfranchise them as someone that was disadvantaged to be part of our ecosystem. it is a balance. >> host: there is no question about it. i want to thank you for this robust conversation and all i can say is i'm looking forward to your next book.