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Clueless in Academe: How Schooling Obscures the Life of the Mind
Publication Year: 2004
ASIN: 0300105142
ISBN: 0300105142

Our schools and colleges often make the intellectual life seem more impenetrable, narrowly specialized, and inaccessible than it is or needs to be, argues this eminent scholar and educator, whose provocative book offers a wealth of practical suggestions for making the culture of ideas and arguments more readily understandable.

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About the Book

For American students to do better–all of them, not just twenty
per cent–they need to know that summarizing and making arguments
is the name of the game in academia. But it’s precisely this game
that academia obscures, generally by hiding it in plain view
amidst a vast disconnected clutter of subjects, disciplines, and
courses. The sheer cognitive overload represented by the American
curriculum prevents most students from detecting and then learning
the moves of the underlying argument game that gives coherence to
it all….
As John Gardner has rightly observed, American colleges “operate under
the assumption that students know how to do it–or if they don’t they’ll
flunk out and it’s their problem.”1 And colleges play hard to get not
only with their undergraduates, but with the lower schools. The schools
are easy to blame for failing to prepare students for college, but it is
the failure of higher education to clarify its culture of ideas and
arguments that leaves the schools unable to prepare their students for
college. The mystification of academic culture trickles down from the
top. (3)

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