In the Basement of the Ivory Tower: Confessions of an Accidental Academic
A caustic expose of the deeply state of our colleges-America's most expensive Ponzi scheme.
What drives a former English major with a creative writing degree, several unpublished novels, three kids, and a straining marriage to take a job as a night teacher at a second-rate college? An unaffordable mortgage.
As his house starts falling apart in every imaginable way, Profes...more
Make no mistake. Most of this book is NOT "the truth about college." Most of this book is a memoir, not about college but just about American middle class life in the period 1990-2010. Poor Professor X. He got his B.A. in English and even took an M.F.A. in writing. And then waited on tables while writing a book, which was rejected. After which he got a government job and together with his wife raised his family in ...more
(a) many new college students are poor writers
(b) many students enrolled in required courses are u ...more
The author's thesis is that there are many students who are in community colleges who are ill prepared for college and have little chance of success because they lack the foun ...more
a) it ignores the incongruity between rising tuition costs and decline of tenure track professors (replacing them instead with luxurious dorms and student activity centers)
b) makes an ill-advised connection between the author's irresponsible mortgage and his numskull students
c) Professor X glosses over the global disconnect between the increasing demand for advanced degrees while knowledge attainment--be it professional or (gasp!) for it's o ...more
To everyone interested in reading this book, don't bother; just stick to reading the 2008 article in The Atlantic Monthly instead. Having read and enjoyed that article, I thought the book would offer insights and more information. The answer is unfortunately no. I think the British have an excellent word 'whinging' (complaining ad nauseum and in a 'why me?' way) and that's the best word I'd use to describe the author's tone. Basically, all he did was whinge about his life as a failed wr ...more
I was also disappointed in his overly florid prose, brimming with metaphor and allusions to literary classics. Perhaps he was working to defend employment; a sort of "Look at me! I know books! I really am a good teacher."
I do think he is a good teacher and I intend t ...more
In sometimes wordy, mostly funny prose, Professor X describes and decries the mores of today's college-level education: the pressure to inflate grades (the boss may drop the innocent "but, John, good grades also improve their chance for a good job"), the fallacy of remed ...more
This book is an expansion of an article X wrote for "The Atlantic" a year or two ago and, while I didn't read the original, I have to think that inflation to book length didn't do his readers any favors. ...more
Professor X has a unique insight into the world of academia. Rather than coming from the world of traditional academic research, Professor X shows the reader the seedy underbelly of academics. Speaking as a former adjunct professor, I can appreciate a lot of what he says. Adjuncts are among the most abused workers in colleges, so it was enjoyable to see that experience put out for everyone t ...more
The author, a somewhat burnt-out college professor, teaches college writing to students at a community college and a private college. He took the job to supplement his family income after they bought into the dream of a house in the suburbs. It was also an outlet from his day job, toiling away in the machinations of the public sector as a government worker, filling purchase orders and the like.
The author says that today's society, like the home-and-pi ...more
What's frustrating as a book purchaser is that this book had the potential to be really great. I agree with Professor X that not every person is "college material" and that not every person who enters college is ready for the work. I found myself wondering, though, if the bigger problem is the colleges hiring people ...more