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Advice for the incoming class of zombies 2018

August 21, 2014

This post is about zombie education and primarily Higher Education. Because High School is not enough, because who doesn’t want to get higher? Like a drug reference but also “PhD” can stand for “piled higher and deeper” which sounds like a poop reference (and that pun works best in sciences where proceeded by “BS”).

Malcolm Gladwell suggests that non-Ivy league is better in part because we consistently underestimate underdogs and because maybe he has a chip on his shoulder from his own education pedigree. More recently in “The Gangster’s Guide to Upward Mobility” Gladwell notes that the West was won with violence and that historic upward mobility has come from outright criminality. Now, we might suggest school as better route to upward mobility than a life of zombie crime, but can education hope to provide the kind of economic growth that violent force can provide? The schools sell crap and the brand name schools sell it for luxury prices.

GameFront: “People Can Steal Stuff You Buy With Real Money in H1Z1 (VIDEO)” by Phil Hornshaw. This is an important development in the gaming world because stealing is a reinforcement of property rights! What a shock to virtual reality to add this realism! Now here’s another shocker, businesses are not always totally honest about their products. Not that they lie but they exaggerate in advertising. And here’s another shocker, schools are businesses. And they have been stealing our youth. Burying them under a pile of debt and cynicism.

Walter Williams latest column available at the Washington Examiner: “Your college tuition pays for this” (also published in Daily World: “Campus censorship is misaligned with higher education goals“) gives many controversial examples of college administration, including:

At Columbia College Chicago, there’s a class called Zombies in Popular Media. The course description reads, “Daily assignments focus on reflection and commentary, while final projects foster thoughtful connections between student disciplines and the figure of the zombie.”

It’s easy to pick on the class title, or point to “zombie” classes as if they are only about zombies, but if you are interested in zombie movies then it can be a good way to motivate students to write. The topic of a writing class is irrelevant if the skills of writing are being taught. Unfortunately, too often the skills of writing are not taught and all that is remembered is a little bit of what was read. Perhaps core classics might be better remnants in the memory?

The College Fix: “As Higher Ed Implodes, College Leaders Accuse Peers of Dereliction of Duty” by Jennifer Kabbany:

If a lack of intellectual and academic diversity is identified, trustees must have the courage to demand change, the report advises. Moreover, trustees must demand a strong general education framework, or a core curriculum, and stop allowing students to meet requirements with esoteric and bizarre classes.

“Sometimes these courses will be exotic and narrowly focused, including topics such as zombie movies or similar elements of popular entertainment,” the blueprint states. “Governance for a new era demands that trustees, working with their president and provost, reexamine their general education programs with an eye to ensuring that general education promotes preparation for a major and skills and knowledge for life after graduation.”

Esoteric and bizarre can motivate a focus on core skills like reading and writing, but we do need some broader exposure to core classics. It would be nice if everyone who had a college degree could be said to understand something specific. But what? Shall we list some texts by dead white European males? Would we be remiss without Kant? Hegel? Marx? Foucault? Freud? Lacan? Derrida? Piaget? Vygotsky? Maybe a little Zora Neale Hurston for diversity? Can there be a common core that we can agree on, or is there no list of knowledge a college graduate should have because there are too many directions? That’s a good thing but how can a student explore the diversity of all the world knowledge if there is no clear way to start?

Perhaps more math! CitiBike blames interns for drunk math as caught by Reddit, see Gawker: “Citi Bike Uses Sci-Fi Math To Brag About Insane, Impossible Journeys“. Maybe it was an intentional stunt for publicity but it’s a believable story because so many college graduates are still so bad at math.

zombie walter williams zombie Deresiwicz william

Last month, William Deresiwicz made lots of internet noise with his article on Ivy League zombies. See New Republic: “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League The nation’s top colleges are turning our kids into zombies“.

Now he’s interviewed in Slate: “My Most Offended Readers Are Ivy-Bound 18-Year-Olds: A conversation with Excellent Sheep author William Deresiewicz” by Rebecca Schuman:

former Yale professor William Deresiewicz describes today’s Ivy League as a highly competent zombie factory, one that “manufactures students who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.”

But, as noted in Newsweek: “Here Are All the Ivy-Educated Zombies on the New Republic’s Masthead” by Zach Schonfeld, calling out the hypocrisy of the Ivy-educated calling their education zombifying – of course, who else would know?

It’s one of those cruel jokes that you only get after you’ve spent 100grand on useless credits, credits that are literally worth nothing, but a Hegelian Nothing, so ya know, still something. Or maybe you don’t know, maybe you didn’t read Hegel in college (I didn’t until law school)

ChicagoNow: “College Advice: Freshman Year Social Decisions” by Chris OB:

Want to get in heated arguments about free will vs. pre-destination vs. what if tomorrow is the zombie apocalypse and all we have for weapons are classroom supplies, just knock on another door and hop in the conversation.

Yes, but wouldn’t an online chatroom be cheaper? Do you need to pay college tuition in order to get a group housing environment for cool smart young people? What if instead the prospective student were to buy real estate in a hip co-op, mightn’t that investment outperform the college degree? But then, who would teach them to think? They might forever feel inferior without the authority of an academic institution to associate themselves with; HAHAhaha! Jokes on us! Should have just stole that shit! Fuck, it’s free on YouTube!

From → Academics

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