Weekend Reading: Funding Higher Education Edition

JFK ParkThis week the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education launched an important new paper series on funding higher education. Rejecting the premise that one of the richest nations in history can’t afford to educate its citizens, and strongly defending the idea that education is public good, the series offers pragmatic steps toward an ambitious goal: seriously funding higher education so that a quality education is accessible to all who would benefit from it.

In the series, Bob Samuels explicitly calls for “Making All Public Higher Education Free”, Stanton A. Glantz and Eric Hays explore “Financial Options for Restoring Quality and Access to Public Higher Education in California”, and AAUP president Rudy Fichtenbaum explains
“How to Invest in Higher Education: A Financial Speculation Tax.”

They’re well worth careful attention. (Even if one is capable of wishing that the papers were hosted in CommentPress or something similar!)

On to this week’s links!

  • James Altucher clues us in on “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Mediocre People”: The mediocre entrepreneur understands that persistence is not the self-help cliché “Keep going until you hit the finish line!” The key slogan is, “Keep failing until you accidentally no longer fail.” That’s persistence.
  • Relatedly, Tony Schwartz explains the imperative to “Relax! You’ll Be More Productive”: Working in 90-minute intervals turns out to be a prescription for maximizing productivity. Professor K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues at Florida State University have studied elite performers, including musicians, athletes, actors and chess players. In each of these fields, Dr. Ericsson found that the best performers typically practice in uninterrupted sessions that last no more than 90 minutes. They begin in the morning, take a break between sessions, and rarely work for more than four and a half hours in any given day.
  • Hayley Lanier has a terrific guest post at the Molecular Ecologist on “Fear and Loathing in Academia: Getting the Right Kind of Mentorship”: If you’re like many of the rest of us, you may find that constructive criticism of your work can sound an awful lot like not-so-constructive criticism aimed at you. It’s (generally) not. Try to remember that most mentors have your best interest at heart, but they’re just people and may not always find the best way to phrase their feedback. That committee member who just suggested twenty new questions on your thesis chapter? She wasn’t necessarily trying to keep you in graduate school forever; she may have just been excited about some of the possibilities suggested by your data.
  • Zen Faulkes maps out different kinds of superhero futures for professors in “Becoming Batman (Academic Edition)”: This is my question for those who make it to the point of becoming a senior academic.

    Are you going to be the Batman who is driven to complete his own mission, come hell or high water, and see those who follow you as chess pieces on the board?

    Or are you going be the Batman who passes on the mantle?

  • Although it starts out with a long anecdote about Facebook, Tom Scheinfeldt’s “The Hacker Way” is really about digital labor and university management: There is a widely held belief in the academy that the labor of those who think and talk is more valuable than the labor of those who build and do. Professorial contributions to knowledge are considered original research while librarians and educational technologists’ contributions to these endeavors are called service. These are not merely imagined prejudices. They are manifest in human resource classifications and in the terms of contracts that provide tenure to one group and, often, at will employment to the other.

In this week’s video, Joel Bukiewicz discusses the appeal of craft:

Meanwhile, I’m not sure which of these videos of “X falling from the sky” is more terrifying: the footage from today of meteorites falling from the sky in Russia or last week’s footage of spiders falling like rain in Brazil.

Phew. On that note, have a good weekend!

Photo “JFK Park” by Flickr user Jimmy Byrum / Creative Commons licensed BY-ND-2.0

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