Discovered on Twitter via @womeninhighered, this Vox article (shared to Precarious Faculty on Facebook, and thus back to @precariousfac on Twitter) picked 12 education articles (see link below). Below are higher education selections: Louis Menard (2011); Malcolm Gladwell (2011); Jill Lepore (2014); Ken Auletta (2012); and Hanna Rosin (2005)
All due respect to the higher ed mission and blogging it, the best part is learning about the New Yorker's free summer archives...
Live and LearnYou could read this one essay, and nothing else, and walk away with a pretty good grasp of the debate about higher education in America. The central question is "What is college supposed to do?" Menard doesn't answer it, really, but his overview should be required reading for anyone who wants to debate student debt or whether everyone should go to college.
A better headline for this article is "Why the US News college rankings are bullshit." Gladwell attacks the perception that the US News rankings are at all unbiased or objective: "The Yales of the world," he writes, "will always succeed at the U.S. News rankings because the U.S. News system is designed to reward Yale-ness." The article is more timely than ever as the US Education Department works on a system to rate colleges, and confronts the same central question — how do you compare institutions that differ on many different dimensions? — that Gladwell writes about here.
The Disruption Machine"Disruption" has become the buzzword du jour in higher education lately, amid dire warnings that free online classes and new forms of credentials will upend the university as we know it. Lepore's critique of the work of Clay Christiansen, the Harvard Business School professor who coined "disruptive innovation," doesn't focus on colleges specifically, but her skeptical analysis of disruptive innovation is definitely important to them. (Not everyone found Lepore's thesis persuasive, including some people here at Vox.)
The question of whether Stanford is too tightly tied to Silicon Valley doesn't mean much for the colleges that educate the majority of American students. But Silicon Valley has been influential in the gospel of success without college, and Auletta's article grapples with questions at the heart of higher education about the value of the liberal arts.
Rosin's feature on Patrick Henry College doesn't really make a broad point about higher education. But it's a tour of a corner of the college universe that many people don't know much about and is a good window into how diverse American higher education is. (I've really included this piece because it's my personal favorite. The article later grew into a book, God's Harvard, which sort of changed my life — it made me realize that writing about colleges could be as fascinating and important as writing about crime or Congress, and was fresh in my mind when I applied for my first higher ed reporting job.)Now check out all of the education articles at 12 New Yorker education articles to read while the archives are free - Vox. Image: Stanford University campus, © Justin Sullivan/Getty Images