Archive for November, 2009

Does Grad School Affect Personality – Adversely?

Controversy, Life in Grad School 2 Comments »

Here’s another article that SHOULD ignite some controversy – but I’m afraid the author may be right.  IS it normal for grad school to change otherwise normal, well-adjusted, functioning adults into paranoids?  DOES grad school change personalities (negatively)?

Is it possible to humanize grad school?

Freedom to Learn, by Carl Rogers, the great humanist-psychologist, was published in 1969. I can still remember my thrill when I read the chapter on what grad school COULD be like. He advocated positive support for all grad students once they were admitted. That meant treating them from the beginning like colleagues-t0-be, who could be mentored, and guided to become great learners and teachers.

What the article linked (above) assumes is that (paranoid) grad students are reacting to being treated like competitors-to-be, with suspicion, and being critiqued and tested continuously, at least until the degree is conferred (and after too, if they are seen then as competitors-for-real).

My take is that the way grad students are being treated is analogous to the way those suspected of having committed crimes are treated in much of the non-US world – guilty until proven innocent. Or, lacking until proven able – which, in grad school, is pretty serious as a suspected crime.

Carl Rogers did not subscribe to a survival-of-the-fittest model of graduate education. He assumed that every single one could produce great scholarship, and he invited teamwork-like collaboration among the members of the intellectual community to support grad students through their learning and transition, rather than making it an ordeal to be survived.

Since I read that chapter, quite a few years ago, I have wondered if there are any academic departments around the country following that enlightened model.  Please let me know if you have experience of one of them…..

Controversy in the Ivory Teapot

Controversy No Comments »

Check out this series of comments by the “intelligencia” when they opine about how many students should dance on the tip of an ivory tower (imagine the metaphor). Well, what the Chronicle folks actually asked was, “Are Too Many Students Going to College?”

The experts all seem to assume we’re talking about undergrads, but the question applies equally to graduate education, and I’d like to see a discussion of THAT. It might even raise the level of the verbal fisticuffs.