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Victor Davis Hansen on Truths we dare not Utter

Doctor Hansen has a list of five, but I shall only focus on one of them, as it is largely the source of the other four, and of our seeming inability to discuss them.

Truths We Dare Not Speak
By Victor Davis Hanson
Works and Days Pajamas Media

...

4) The Ivy League is a Naked Emperor

By Ivy League I do not mean just Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, but the entire concept of high-priced elite schools like a Stanford, Duke, or Columbia as well. We know a BA from such institutions does not ipso facto any longer, as it once may well have, guarantee knowledge or competence. We know the race/class/gender craze has watered down the curriculum, and ensured therapy and empathy trump recall of facts and adherence to the inductive method. And we know that one's first two years will probably mean instruction largely by graduate students and lecturers.

Had we national exit requirements, I am convinced those leaving a Hillsdale College or St. Thomas Aquinas or St. John's would do better than the average Yale BA.

A motivated undergraduate student, who picks the right professors and classes, can get as good an undergraduate education at San Jose State as at Stanford. Certainly, the four years are not worth $200,000 in room, board, and tuition-- if education is the goal.

But wait! If, in contrast, networks, influence-accumulation, and contacts are the objectives to ensure a child remains, or enters into, the elite class, then the investment in such undergraduate schools is very much worth it--but should be considered analogous to a debutante ball, the social register, or the Grand Tour.

Does anyone believe that the present professional classes of Ivy-League certified technocrats in the administration understand the law, the economy, or the government any better, by virtue of their university educations, than a does a country trial lawyer, a military officer, a CEO, or any of the others who were educated elsewhere, or received training in the rather rougher arena of the real world?

I am fortunate for a wonderful graduate education in the PhD program at Stanford, but I learned more about the way the world works in two months of farming (which saved a wretch like me) than in four years of concentrated study.

In short, the world does not work on a nine-month schedule. It does not recognize concepts like tenure. It does not care for words without action. And brilliance is not measure by vocabulary or SAT scores. Wowing a dean, or repartee into a seminar, or clever put-downs of rivals in the faculty lounge don't translate into running a railroad--or running the country. One Harry Truman, or Dwight Eisenhower is worth three Bill Clintons or Barack Obamas. If that sounds reductionist, simplistic, or anti-intellectual, it is not meant to--but so be it nonetheless.

...

Note that it is this "educated class" (to use David Brooks turn of phrase) which has got us into the mess we now find ourselves. For those who value results more than a clever turn of phrase or obscure literary reference, the grade this "educated class" has earned in governance is not a passing one.


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Comments (12)

I read this article earlier... (Below threshold)
Tango:

I read this article earlier this morning. The good doctor hits a freakin bullseye as usual.

Columbia is an Ivy.... (Below threshold)
jpe:

Columbia is an Ivy.

I've met a lot of intellige... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

I've met a lot of intelligent people, and I've met a lot of educated people who push the concept of an "intellectual elite". You can guess which one's are most often called "dumb asses". The scary part is that they think themselves so superior to 'the common man'. Yet, were a major catastrophe to occur, you can bet the bank, it will be the common man who would survive.

In one of my past lives I w... (Below threshold)
glenn:

In one of my past lives I was the guy who shepherded the independent auditors through my company and explained all the operations, material transfers and departmental interactions. We used one of the big four/five/seven?? The dumbest auditor I ever met had an MBA from a top ten school. He also had an ego big as all outdoors and a legacy admission.

The truth is Obama suc's!</... (Below threshold)
914:

The truth is Obama suc's!

"But wait! If, in contrast,... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

"But wait! If, in contrast, networks, influence-accumulation, and contacts are the objectives to ensure a child remains, or enters into, the elite class, then the investment in such undergraduate schools is very much worth it-"-VDH

That is EXACTLY the reason certain schools, including non-Ivy League schools with renowned departments, attract applicants. It denotes also, forward-thinking, positive opportunism, and a reliable prospective junior associate/employee who needs the maximum opportunity to pay off loan debt.

As for Hanson's apparent fixation on educational quality in the liberal arts-- the hard sciences ultimately requiring post graduate studies or independent licensing for the most lucrative lines of work, and thus beyond the ken of Hansen's...rant----the liberal arts have been the playpen for theorists, psychologists, and alumni going back to the 1920s in the USA.

Hanson admitting he, too, is a former debutante and a pilgrim on the Grand Tour with an entry in the Social Register, tells me VD is slumming. This column is his round of gin for the house. Now, won't you lend me your ear?

BTW, VD is the egghead who advanced the bizarre maxim that democracies never war on one another; an ideologically-inspired and bathetic attempt at buttressing Bush's pre-emptive invasion of Iraq. Jay Tea bit to humorous effect in the comments thread; humorous for the Nay side, that is--- not Jay Tea.


bryanD,Having read... (Below threshold)

bryanD,

Having reading comprehension issues, I see...

By Ivy League I do not mean just Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, but the entire concept of high-priced elite schools like a Stanford, Duke, or Columbia as well. We know a BA from such institutions does not ipso facto any longer, as it once may well have, guarantee knowledge or competence.

Doctor Hansen is speaking about undergraduate education here... He also continues:

I am fortunate for a wonderful graduate education in the PhD program at Stanford, but I learned more about the way the world works in two months of farming (which saved a wretch like me) than in four years of concentrated study.

Or have you never known someone who holds a graduate degree who had little or no grasp of the real world? Doctor Hanson, unlike most of the current administration's "policy wonks", has worked for a living.

I'd far rather work with, or have working for me, a JayTea as opposed to a David Brooks.

"Or have you never known so... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

"Or have you never known someone who holds a graduate degree who had little or no grasp of the real world?"-rg

Of course. Everyone does. Its a truism.
Yet you, the reposter, lede with ""...Truths we dare not Utter" which obviously doesn't apply to Hanson or you. Or me. Or the girl behind the tree.

Like I said: VD is slumming at the mirrored bar of the culture war. Raisin water.

oh bryanD with a Y ...... (Below threshold)
jeff:

oh bryanD with a Y ...

such a poet ...

An educated person understa... (Below threshold)

An educated person understands the working of the world in which he lives. A credentialed person has piece of paper from an institution VDH understands the world. Persons like David Brooks and Barack Obama have credentials.

About ten, fifteen years ba... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

About ten, fifteen years back we used to joke about "Paper MCSEs" - computer illiterate folks who took rote repetitive training to pass the exams needed to become a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. This was supposedly a guarantee of quality and systems knowledge - but the joke was it took about a year for a paper MCSE to become safe with a screwdriver around a server... assuming they lasted that long.

jpe @ 2 states:<block... (Below threshold)
Rodney Graves Author Profile Page:

jpe @ 2 states:

Columbia is an Ivy.

aka: "You spent way too much for that BA."




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