Since we were just talking about the chattering classes, I thought I’d relate and briefly discuss a few recent comments from the Volokh site, from a post by Professor Kenneth Anderson on… oh… something or other with respect to higher education.
(By the way, that site always seems to take a long time to load, for no discernible reason.)
Now before I get into this I want to say that I think very well of Professor Anderson from what I know of him and don’t want to single him out for harsh criticism. I am not attacking Professor Anderson; I am using something he said to illustrate a larger point not just about him, but about the class he typifies.
That would be, of course, the chattering classes. Professor Anderson is a one percenter. Or at least an adjunct to the one percenters.
In his discussion of the pitfalls for students who might want to broaden their areas of study from the humanities into the sciences, Prof. Anderson relates that some “very bright” students are reluctant to do that not because they don’t need to acquire the knowledge, but because it might give them a down tick on their GPA. Casting about for a compromise solution, he comes up with “pass/fail” type science courses that humanities students can take without worrying about the impact on the GPA. He then goes on to state:
This is why I am suggesting workarounds that might be doable at some schools, emphasizing pass-not pass minors, etc. The problem is how to manage both credential and education, in a world in which everyone understands the costs, the fantastic risks, and everyone is leveraging every credential advantage on the margin. I advise students that they have to put the credential first. It’s what I tell my daughter. I don’t like it, but I didn’t create the rules.
I brought him up on this gently, in a comment to which he did not respond, though it’s clear he’s reading the comments pretty closely.