RAW is in the air. Since Wednesday morning, projects have been cropping up throughout campus, with concentric circles of laundry rising from the front lawn, surreal living rooms materializing in Commons, and rolling pallets of grass drifting around the ground floor of Eliot.
Today, a grubby crew of artists in sweatshirts and Carhartts could be seen industriously striding around Eliot Circle, stacking and welding several tons of scrap metal into a labyrinthine tower. The piece, entitled Assembly of Freight, is the brainchild of sculptor and installation artist Ben Wolf.
Like most Americans, I am concerned about internet scoundrels who might try to steal my identity. But it never occurred to me that entire institutions could be vulnerable to identity theft.
In the last few days, however, the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Wall Street Journal have reported on a disturbing development: an unidentified scam artist copied Reed's website to create a fictitious "University of Redwood," taking the concept of academic fraud to a whole new low.
Our sister blog Voices from Reed reported on this delightful chalk graffito, which materialized on the Blue Bridge on Valentine's Day:
I had to chuckle at the brouhaha stirred by New York Times music critic Anthony Tommasini recently with his ambitious attempt to rank the Top Ten Classical Composers Ever. (In case you haven't heard, JS Bach was #1.)
Lists of this sort are an old journalistic standby--subjective, outrageous, infuriating, and a marvelous device to spark debate and spur readership.
Considering the enormous quantities of time, energy, money, and anguish that are invested in higher education in this country, you might imagine that we'd have more hard data about how well it works. Yet research on the true purpose of a college education--whether it produces an educated person--is surprisingly sparse.
A major new book on the subject--Academically Adrift, by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa--presents plenty of data, and the conclusions aren't pretty. Approximately 45% of the undergraduates surveyed showed no improvement in their overall analytical competence after two years of college, and 36% showed no improvement after four years of college.
"Large numbers of U.S. college students can be accurately described as academically adrift. They might graduate, but they are failing to develop the higher-order cognitive skills that it is widely assumed college students should master," the authors write.
When I was a freshman at Reed, professor Jean Delord [physics 1950-88] taught me some elementary computer programming. I can still remember the thrill of compiling my first snippet of code, which simply printed the immortal words "Hello, World!"
Now, many years later, the same words leap to mind as we introduce Sallyportal, a new blog hosted by Reed magazine.