America is being held back by the quality and quantity of learning in college. This is a true educational emergency! Many college graduates cannot think critically, write effectively, solve problems, understand complex issues, or meet employers' expectations. We are losing our mindsâ€”and endangering our social, economic, and scientific leadership. Critics say higher education costs too much and should be more efficient. But the real problem is value, not cost; financial 'solutions' alone won't work. In this book, Keeling and Hersh argue that the only solution - making learning the highest priority in college - demands fundamental change throughout higher education.
“The sources of the primary problems in American undergraduate higher education – the lack of true high learning, the absence of a serious culture of teaching and learning, and the consequent insufficient quality and quantity of student learning – are deeply cultural, and solving them will require fundamental, thoroughgoing changes in our colleges and universities.”
I am very passionate about higher education. I strongly believe in higher education, yet I too believe higher education in America can use some renovation. I have read a few doom-and-gloom higher education books over the years – some bad ones and some horrible ones – with each one calling for a total overhaul of our colleges and universities. Though I do not really disagree with anything written in We’re Losing Our Minds, I was yet again underwhelmed by the material.
The authors have superb credentials with both of them serving in numerous administrative roles at several distinguished schools. Yet the question that comes to mind is this: if they are so dissatisfied with higher education, why couldn’t they change it while they were in charge? Obviously politics and what not will get in the way, but with so many schools out there, why can’t one become the ideal institution? And if there is one like that, why are we not diving into it and reproduce the results? To me it’s like a chef complaining about all the horrible food other chefs make. The chef needs to stop complaining, stop focusing on others, and cook the best food ever.
Colleges want to be accessible to all. However you risk low retention rates when unprepared students begin to drop out. When your retention rates drop, you must focus on faculty and staff to create programs and mentoring to help students be more successful. When you hire too many faculty and staff your costs increase. When your costs increase your tuition increases. When your tuition increases, you become less accessible.
And when you have thousands of colleges on this same vicious cycle, things can get messy.
As the authors state, learning needs to be the utmost goal. I couldn’t agree more, but what works in theory – as describe in the book – doesn’t work in reality. (“In theory…communism works…in theory” –if you get that joke, then you are smart.)
To me, this book was kind of bland. It was a very long 170+ pages. The second half was better than the first, which is kind of rare. Honestly, I do not feel like I learned much from this book.
I actually cursed out loud at the television when listening to the president's State of the Union speech; at one point he recommended making three-year college degrees more available, suggesting a dessicated view of college education as mere credentialing rather than authentic higher learning. There's a lot of that going around, but it seemed unworthy of him, given his own academic background and the hopes for a change away from the anti-intellectualist populism of the W years. Co-authors Keeling and Hersh have provided the most cogent and stimulating analysis and recommendations to confront the crisis in American higher education that I've yet read, and I've suggested to the chair of our Faculty Development committee that our college faculty all be given a copy as a way of catalyzing a facilitated campus discussion about the culture of learning - or lack of it - where I teach. Reading this book made me feel like I found some solid footing after years of the sensation of being swept back by the inexorable tide of consumerism and passivity under which our collegiate culture is drowning.
Where do I begin? This book is highly repetitive and could have been reduced to about 20 pages in length. The authors spent about 70% of the time in an attempt to convince the reader that the humanistic "creation of meaning" is the way that "higher learning" occurs. There are many problems with this as can be found with a quick search. This book contained too much conjecture and a multitude of meaningless platitudes.
I would never recommend this book to anyone.
I should also mention that the authors make their living off of promoting the image that low learning in college can be remedied by reading their ideas. I am skeptical of their objectivity.
Makes a solid case for the focus of higher education on higher learning. However, only one chapter lays out a plan and it's not specific and measurable. If you need to understand why we should change and a broad concept of the aim of change, read this book. If you want an action plan that is measurable and evidence-based, keep hoping it shows up soon.
Expect a slow read too. The writing style is awkward and long-winded at times. Lots of repeated content. Probably would have been a better essay.
This book argues that higher education has strayed from its purpose of providing students with higher learning. This argument is akin to the book Academically Adrift. I would have given the book 5 stars but it's a long-winded book. Very wordy and sometimes repetitive. However, the arguments posed are very interesting that's why I continued to read on and finish it.
Very intelligent critique of American higher education that is deeply informed by neuroscience, developmental psychology, and social organization theory that is also balanced with passionately argued practical considerations for implementing real reforms and change for "higher learning."