As If Learning Mattered: Reforming Higher Education

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9780801485282: As If Learning Mattered: Reforming Higher Education

Although the culture wars have preoccupied the nation for the past two decades, these impassioned debates about the function of education have produced few lasting institutional changes. Writing with wit and precision, Richard E. Miller shows why the system of higher education has been particularly resistant to reform. Unraveling stereotypes about conservative, liberal, and radical reform efforts, Miller looks at what has actually happened when theories about education have been put into practice. What did Matthew Arnold do as a school inspector to promote the study of "the best that has been thought and said in our time"? Why did the Great Books program fail at the University of Chicago and succeed at a small liberal arts college in Annapolis, Maryland? How did Tony Bennett and others involved in the radical work of British Cultural Studies test their students' knowledge of popular culture? How did ethnographers of schooling respond when they encountered students with apparently racist attitudes?

By raising such questions, As If Learning Mattered focuses attention on how students, teachers, and administrators experience life in the academy as they negotiate the daily realities of reading lists, writing assignments, grading practices, and funding crises. By juxtaposing what educators think about social change with what these same people actually do in the classroom, Miller successfully identifies new ways to generate locally effective reform objectives for the university as it retools for the information age.

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Richard E. Miller
Published by Cornell University Press (1998)
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