Sunday Roundup – Twitter, “Dear Student,” and Anthony Hill.

Here’s what I wrote last week:

I also wrote this piece for Vitae on the “Dear Student” controversy, which my academic readers will know about, and the rest of you all probably won’t find too interesting. But you should, because I argue it’s about power and the nature of higher education today, I argue:

The problem is this: In the Dear Student columns, the angry and precarious faculty are aiming their frustrations at hypothetical students making archetypal complaints that faculty hear all too often. But … students are the wrong target. While they can be petty, self-involved, rude, vindictive, and otherwise display some of the awful features of humanity, the problem is that they have entered into a system that treats them as interchangeable sources of income. Corporatist rhetoric makes students feel powerful enough to demand things of professors, while all the time concealing their real powerlessness in our neoliberal education system.

I like the essay and am working on a piece in which teaching experts talk to administrators. More to come on that soon.

I’ve been criticized for not having enough links to other sources for this piece. Let me say publicly that I accept that criticism and should have done more linking, either in the piece when it was edited or, more likely, on my blog when the piece came up. I like to position my academic journalism as a piece in a conversation, and I didn’t do that here, with one exception (Dorothy Kim).

A timeline of the essay writing, in case you were wondering:

  • Jesse Stommel’s column was published on 2/28.
  • I was mostly off Twitter on the 28th and 1st of March, when the big Twitter discussions were taking place. 
  • I was on Facebook, and participated in a couple of private threads with robust discussion. Those are, of course, private, so I can’t link to them.
  • I felt that Dorothy Kim’s ideas were especially important, so I talked to her privately over email/messenger, and linked to a storify of her Tweets.
  • I pitched, wrote, and filed my essay on March 2. In fact, I also pitched, wrote, filed, and edited this CNN essay that day.  It was a busy day. 
  • Read lots of things on March 3-5 on the issue, including this awesome storify of links and tweets from Kelly Baker and  a critique of Jesse’s critique, called “How Privilege Works.” Stacey Patton, the author of the “Dear Student” Columns, brought that last one to my attention personally. Patton is, by the way, an awesome journalist and you should read her work.
  • I got edits on March 6 and worked on language issues but did not build a set of links, as I thought of the piece as being in the first-wave of reactions.
  • March 11 – Vitae publishes my essay. People wonder why I didn’t cite them in the piece, which is fair enough.

What else should I be reading?

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