Today’s Inside Higher Education has an extraordinary essay by John Smith, a mid-40s professor who is so discouraged by the state of the liberal arts college where he works that he has decided to leave academia. Smith complains about the tendency of professors to coddle their students by offering easy courses and inflating their grades. Students tend to pick these courses, usually offered by professors who they know will not challenge them to read and think. Smith also laments the failure of the campus community to engage in serious debate over serious ideas, preferring instead to demonize anyone on campus who disagrees with the prevailing campus orthodoxy.
I am not ready yet to leave academia, but I can certainly sympathize with some of John Smith’s reflections.