Consequence, not cause

Stanley Fish’s explanation for the death of the academic intellectual life is interesting, but somehow manages to miss the significant point:

One vision, rooted in an “ethic of productivity” and efficiency, has, he tells us, already won the day; and the proof is that in the very colleges and universities where the life of the mind is routinely celebrated, the material conditions of the workplace are configured by the business model that scorns it.

The best evidence for this is the shrinking number of tenured and tenure-track faculty and the corresponding rise of adjuncts, part-timers more akin to itinerant workers than to embedded professionals.

Humanities professors like to think that this is a temporary imbalance and talk about ways of redressing it, but Donoghue insists that this development, planned by no one but now well under way, cannot be reversed. Universities under increasing financial pressure, he explains, do not “hire the most experienced teachers, but rather the cheapest teachers.” Tenured and tenure-track teachers now make up only 35 percent of the pedagogical workforce and “this number is steadily falling.”

What Fish fails to note is the effect of what Bloom described as “The Closing of the American Mind”. The reason there is no place for the traditional liberal arts education is that there is nothing liberal, in the original sense of the term, about the liberal arts anymore. Having abandoned their original purpose of offering a broad-based education to students in favor of attempting to instill left-wing ideologies into them, the university system no longer provides anything of value to anyone except technical training.

It should come as no surprise, then, that since the demand for technical training has replaced the demand for the illiberal arts, the supply has readjusted itself in line with the requirements of the market.