Friday, April 19, 2024

Harvard Dean Admits Undergrads Struggling to ID Basic Parts of Speech

'I have no interest in studying the work of dead white men... '

(Headline USA) Harvard University Dean of Undergraduate Education Amanda Claybaugh admitted in an interview published last month that many of the school’s new students struggle to understand basic high school material.

“The last time I taught The Scarlet Letter, I discovered that my students were really struggling to understand the sentences as sentences — like, having trouble identifying the subject and the verb,” Claybaugh, who is also an English professor at Harvard, told the New Yorker. “Their capacities are different and the nineteenth century is a long time ago.”

Even though Harvard’s students may struggle with basic reading comprehension, they are at least “very, very concerned about the ethics of representation, of cultural interaction,” Claybaugh added.

Another English professor at the school, Tara K. Menon, said part of the reason why students are struggling with high school-level reading is because they’re no longer interested in reading works by “dead white men.”

“There’s a real misunderstanding that you can come in and say, ‘I want to read post-colonial texts—that’s the thing I want to study—and I have no interest in studying the work of dead white men,’” Menon said. “My answer, in the big first lecture that I give, is, if you want to understand Arundhati Roy, or Salman Rushdie, or Zadie Smith, you have to read Dickens. Because one of the tragedies of the British Empire is that all those writers read all those books.”

According to the New Yorker, Harvard is not the only institution experiencing a drop in academic performance and proficiency.

“Vassar and Bates — standard-bearing liberal-arts colleges — saw their numbers of humanities majors fall by nearly half. In 2018, the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point briefly considered eliminating thirteen majors, including English, history, and philosophy, for want of pupils,” the article stated.

The study of English and history at the college level has plummeted by more than 30% over the past decade, it added.

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