While vacationing on a very cold North Carolina island last week, I reflected on my university experiences:  as an undergraduate, a post-graduate and as a faculty member.  More than two decades of my early adult life were connected with universities.

Universities in those decades were looked on with admiration and respect.  They had been, and were, the gateway to learning that propelled not only the individual, but also our country, to greater and greater accomplishments.

“Going to college” was not a given.  The impact of the G.I.Bill was just underway.  Only four members of my high school graduating class went on to college.

College was not, then, a bank breaker.  State legislatures understood the necessity to nearly fully fund their state institutions of higher learning in order to invest in a better future for their state and its citizens.  Those legislatures knew that the returns their state would reap from that investment far outweighed the cost.

Times have changed.  And, I’ve often posted about some of the crises facing higher education today and, usually, I have been a strong defender of our colleges and universities.

However, I came across an article last week that took a different look — a look at the erosion that has taken place within the colleges themselves.

“Higher Education is Drowning in BS” by Christian Smith was published in The Chronicle of Higher Education and offers some real eye openers:

“I have had nearly enough bullshit. The manure has piled up so deep in the hallways, classrooms, and administration buildings of American higher education that I am not sure how much longer I can wade through it and retain my sanity and integrity.

 Even worse, the accumulated effects of all the academic BS are contributing to this country’s disastrous political condition and, ultimately, putting at risk the very viability and character of decent civilization. What do I mean by BS?  .  .  .

 (Smith then lists specific items of BS that cover most — if not all — of the ills that have seriously weakened and damaged our colleges and universities — all created from within.  And, he means that our institutions of higher learning have become blind to their original goals and purposes and veered off in much less meaningful — even harmful — directions.)  Smith continues:

Ideas and their accompanying practices have consequences. What is formed in colleges and universities over decades shows up for better or worse in the character and quality of our public servants, political campaigns, public-policy debates, citizen participation, social capital, media programming, lower school education, consumer preferences, business ethics, entertainments, and much more. And the long-term corrosive effects on politics and culture can also be repaired only over the long term, if ever. There are no quick fixes here. So I do not speak in hyperbole by saying that our accumulated academic BS puts at risk decent civilization itself.

 The world is always being overrun by political, economic, religious, and social unreason, violence, stupidity, deception, and domination through sheer power. But I have long believed that, despite its flaws, American higher education should, could, and often did stand as an elevated island, a protected reserve for the practice of open inquiry, reasoned debate, critical and self-critical reflection, persuasion through argument and evidence, and genuine progress in shared learning.

 Grievously, for me that belief has become implausible. Under the accumulated weight of the mounds of BS, the island has been swamped, the reserve polluted, by many of the destructive outside forces that the academy exists to hold in check and correct. Much of American higher education now embodies the problems it was intended to transcend and transform: unreason, duplicity, refusals of accountability, incapacities to grasp complexity and see the big picture, and resorts to semi-masked forms of coercion.

 The most disturbing consequences of this long-term corruption are now playing out in our national political culture and institutions.

 Dramatic political polarization, fake news, legislative paralysis, torrents of blatant lies told with impunity, violent radicals in our city streets, scandalous ignorance of large swaths of Americans about the basic facts of our most pressing national problems, some top officials boasting about their sexual harassments and assaults without consequence, international diplomacy conducted through schoolyard taunting and self-contradictory tweets, and the growing frustration and increasingly desperate rage of large sectors of ordinary Americans: These are exactly what develop when even the “educated” citizens of a country are for too many decades not educated well, and when the institutional centers of enlightened learning and debate become havens of ideology, intimidation, and mission drift.  .  .  .

 This article is definitely worth your time.  More on Monday  –  –  –

                                                                             — Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning

 January 17, 2018  (Mondays & Wednesdays)

 (This is a personal blog.  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner,, an independent consultant.  They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity.)