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What drives a former English major with a creative writing degree, several unpublished novels, three kids, and a straining marriage to take a job as a night teacher at a second-rate college?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
The elitism of learning
When I left Romania, about eleven years ago, I decided to give up on teaching as well. After sixteen years of doing only this, it was not an easy decision to make, but I was so fed up with the corrupt system I was leaving behind that I had lost all faith in the generosity of my profession.
Of course, once a teacher always a teacher and although I’ve generally stuck to my decision and now I’m working full time in an office (finding my work interesting and challenging enough ...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
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
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
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 gave this book three stars because I see i ...more
I liked how he compared this college degree push by Obama to the "everybody own a house" push by George W. Bush. One ended in disaster (the housing bubble, substandard loans, foreclo ...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
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