Education

Manufacturing Morals

October 24, 2013
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Manufacturing Morals

Michel Anteby’s Manufacturing Morals: The Values of Silence in a Business School Education explores the pedagogy behind corporate accountability—from within the closed doors of Harvard Business School, where Anteby, an associate professor, offers an unprecedented take as to how silence, ambiguity, and open-ended directives play key roles in generating a model of learning that leaves wiggle room for moral complexity.

Anteby riffed on this topic in a recent op-ed for the Guardian, where he observed that, “While business schools’ relative silence on moral issues like inequality might have worked in the past, the situation today has dramatically changed.”

He goes on to consider the grounds for this ideological shift:

These business schools’ inclusive historical DNA allowed them to train thousands of students, but also left a lasting imprint on many institutions’ moral outlook. A diverse membership required flexibility on moral issues. To be sure, teaching about increasing productivity, ensuring sufficient margins, and maintaining workers’ satisfaction assumed an implicit moral stand: one that offered legitimacy to profit-making ventures.

Yet, the broader aspirations of these ventures often remained elusive. An idea of higher ethical goals prevailed (such as “setting higher business standards” . . .

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Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities

October 15, 2013
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Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities

Maia Bloomfield Cucchiara’s Marketing Schools, Marketing Cities considers the relationship between private markets and public education by focusing on Philadelphia’s Center City Schools Initiative. The Initiative targeted (largely white) middle- and upper-middle class families living in a recently gentrified downtown neighborhood and adopted a slick marketing campaign to convince these residents to elect (and thus, invest in) a series of hand-selected local public elementary schools. Hoping that the Initiative would result in an increase of both property tax revenue and personal investment these schools, proponents saw a viable link between a revitalized downtown and what would become an improved public school system. The problem? The School District of Philadelphia continues to face its worst-ever financial crisis, replete with layoffs, school closures, and program cuts. And those seats in the City Center elementary schools? Turns out they weren’t empty. As Cucchiara reports in a piece at the Atlantic drawn from the book’s research:

The marketing worked: According to my analysis of School District of Philadelphia data, by 2009 the number of Center City children enrolled in first grade in the three most desirable public schools had increased by 60 percent, from 111 to . . .

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We are here

July 23, 2013
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We are here

Ideas don’t exist in a vacuum, and neither does the University of Chicago Press. We share a corner of a immensely beautiful campus where Gothic structures mingle with modernist marvels, and a who’s who of architects give the Loop a run for its money (people aren’t quite lining up to stare down from the top of the Logan Center yet, but just give it time!). Even our heating and chiller plants are stunning, an especially lucky fact since the Press building overlooks the towering South Campus Chiller Plant with its engineering inner workings fully on display.

But while they make impressive photo ops and allow for games of spot-the-gargoyle, why the gothic buildings? Why did the forward-thinking university start with an architectural style that was centuries old? The answer lies in the beautifully illustrated new book Building Ideas: An Architectural Guide to the University of Chicago.

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For the physical plan and architectural design, the founding trustees considered six local firms. Chicago’s architectural talent was adept at executing large projects, maintaining budgets, and creating designs that consistently impressed (albeit grudgingly) the critics from the East Coast. Chicago School architects designed for a demanding city: for developers who craved . . .

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2012 PROSE Awards

February 11, 2013
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2012 PROSE Awards

The 2012 PROSE Awards, announced February 7, 2013, “annually recognize the very best in professional and scholarly publishing by bringing attention to distinguished books, journals, and electronic content in over 40 categories.” Since 1976, the Professional and Scholarly Publishing (PSP) Division of the Association of American Publishers (AAP) have bestowed the awards on deserving recipients—and among them, we’re delighted to see several University of Chicago Press books acknowledged. Congrats to all the winners and honorable mentions!

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The awards for History of Science, Medicine, and Technology featured a clean sweep by Chicago, led by Daniela Bleichmar’s Visible Empire: Botanical Expeditions and Visual Culture in the Hispanic Enlightenment, which traces both the little-known history of scientific expeditions in the Hispanic Enlightenment and the history of visual evidence in both science and administration in the early modern Spanish empire.

An Honorable Mention was awarded to Sachiko Kusukawa’s Picturing the Book of Nature: Image, Text, and Argument in Sixteenth-Century Human Anatomy and Medical Botany, a consideration of the works three early modern learned authors who dealt with botany and anatomy—Leonhart Fuchs, Conrad Gessner, and Andreas Vesalius—and how their illustrations were integral to producing a . . .

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Uncivil Rights: Teachers, Unions, and Race in the Battle for School Equity

September 10, 2012
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Uncivil Rights: Teachers, Unions, and Race in the Battle for School Equity

Walk into a low-income, minority school today, and you are likely to see halls plastered with the same optimistic slogans that have come to serve as fixtures in most American public schools. Walk into a classroom, however, and you are likely to see two unique realities that undermine those clichés: students mechanically preparing for standardized tests and teachers “teaching” from mandated instructional packages, otherwise known as scripted curricula. Written by private corporations that also serve as powerful lobbyists for school reform policy, these “teacher-proof” plans prescribe not just the content of a given lesson but every sentence that teachers will read off to their students in the course of a class. Accounts of teachers’ work with these curricula run from the ridiculous (the scripts allotting no time for teachers to repeat themselves) to the perverse (the common technique of call-and-response drills, a system of militaristic hand signals that accompanies one such program). In the words of Robert Slavin, creator of the Success for All Foundation, a supplier of premade curricula, scripted lessons promise not to “leave very much to chance” and instead offer a “relentless” approach to ensure productive activities “down to the level of minute-by-minute in the classroom.” The . . .

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(Academically) Adrift on the Web

January 18, 2011
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(Academically) Adrift on the Web

Sometimes information clicks. Like the success of pink dresses on the red carpet outside of the Golden Globes (allow us—chagrin, we know—that cultural comparison), you can’t anticipate how new scholarship, when produced, might take off and traffic through the usual spheres of commerce and the circuitry of Web 3.0. With that in mind, we couldn’t be more fascinated by the explosive debut today (surprising findings in tow) of Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses.

The Chronicle of Higher Education places the book in profile in a four-part (I II III IV) series ranging from commentary and news analysis to a more targeted study, including an excerpt from the book itself.

As the Chronicle summarizes:

In the new book, Mr. Arum and his coauthor—Josipa Roksa, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Virginia—report on a study that has tracked a nationally representative sample of more than 2,000 students who entered 24 four-year colleges in the fall of 2005.

Three times in their college careers—in the fall of 2005, the spring of 2007, and the spring of 2009—the students were asked to take the Collegiate Learning Assessment, or CLA, a widely-used essay test . . .

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Our Fantastic Mrs. Paley

November 15, 2010
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Our Fantastic Mrs. Paley

This past Friday, one of New York City’s most venerable cultural institutions, the 92nd Street Y (136 years strong and still kicking!) bestowed a unique honor upon one of the University of Chicago Press’s most beloved authors. In all of the years that the 92Y has been creating and playing host to vibrant lectures, readings, conferences, community service opportunities, and city-wide programming, it had yet to endow and bestow an award named after a living figure—that is, until now. Please join us in celebrating the 92Y Vivian Gussin Paley Award for Early Childhood Education and its inaugural recipient, the “playful” visionary and early childhood education pioneer, Vivian Gussin Paley.

From the 92Y’s commendation:

Vivian Gussin Paley examines children’s stories and play, their logic and their thinking, searching for meaning in the social and moral landscapes of classroom life. A kindergarten teacher for 37 years, Mrs. Paley brings her storytelling/story acting and discussion techniques to children, teachers and parents throughout the world. In addition to her direct contributions to children and teachers, she is a MacArthur fellow and recipient of numerous awards, including: the Erikson Institute Award for Service to Children (1987); American Book Award from the Before Columbus . . .

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Waiting for Superman to school citizens

November 10, 2010
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Waiting for Superman to school citizens

This week’s issue of the New York Review of Books takes a stance on a hot-button issue that just happens to be the subject of a major new documentary. If you watch Oprah, read the Nation or Time magazine, or, you know, listen to conversations with President Obama on the nightly news, you know that Davis Guggenheim, director of the Academy Award-winning film An Inconvenient Truth (shoutout to Al Gore and polar bears!), helms a new movie about the fate of public education in America and the plight of five children competing for admission to in-demand charter schools. Waiting for “Superman” paints a provocative portrait of the rise of a new generation of charter schools, many funded by the government but privately run, and each presenting an alternative to troubled U.S. public schools.

But as Diane Ravitch notes in the NYRB article:

Waiting for “Superman” and the other films appeal to a broad apprehension that the nation is falling behind in global competition. If the economy is a shambles, if poverty persists for significant segments of the population, if American kids are not as serious about their studies as their peers in other nations, the schools must be to . . .

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College by the numbers

October 18, 2010
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College by the numbers

Earlier this month the State University of New York at Albany announced “that the university was ending all admissions to programs in French, Italian, Russian, and classics, leaving only Spanish left in the language department once current students graduate. The theater department is also being eliminated.” Over the weekend the New York Times asked a panel of scholars to respond to this news, wondering how necessary the study of French really is. Among their respondents was Gaye Tuchman, author of Wannabe U: Inside the Corporate University, who argues that “ending programs in the arts and humanities because they are not making money transforms universities into trade schools. This corporatization of colleges and universities has already squelched the notion that higher education is a public good.”

The process of corporatization is one Tuchman has studied extensively, as seen in Wannabe U, which tracks the dispiriting consequences of trading in traditional educational values for loyalty to the market. In a recent essay for the Chronicle Review, Tuchman examined the effects of one particular trend that universities have borrowed from corporations: an obsession with measuring success numerically. After detailing the various ways faculty and administrators have collaborated in developing an “audit culture,” Tuchman . . .

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“All that great writing, trapped in mediocre books!”

September 22, 2010
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“All that great writing, trapped in mediocre books!”

The September 14th issue of the London Review of Books features an extended, combative review by Elif Batuman of a recent book from Harvard University Press, Mark McGurl’s The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing. Though Batuman takes issue with many of McGurl’s points, her essay is the sort of review any author ought to be happy to get, one that takes the book seriously enough to engage deeply with its ideas.

Ultimately, however, Batuman is simply much more critical of university writing programs and the fiction they’ve spawned than McGurl is, arguing, among other things, that their ahistorical approach to fiction is a short-sighted, narcissistic mistake. “Literary scholarship,” writes Batuman, “may not be an undiluted joy to its readers, but at least it’s usually founded on an ideal of the collaborative accretion of human knowledge.”

Batuman’s essay brought to mind one of our books, D. G. Myers’s The Elephants Teach: Creative Writing since 1880, which takes a longer view than McGurl’s book, surveying and analyzing more than a century of debate over how—and even whether—creative writing should be taught. Myers draws on a wide range of writers—including Longfellow, Emerson, Frost, John Berryman, John Dewey, . . .

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