Wednesday, July 14, 2004

You had me at "stultiloquence" 

James Otteson has joined the stable of writers at Liberty and Power and written a description of how he's been told to dumb down a college textbook.
I�m currently writing a book outlining and defending the �classical liberal� moral and political tradition and applying that tradition�s principles to moral and political conflicts occupying our attention today. The book is pitched at undergraduates ... [O]ne of the criticisms the manuscript has received from reviewers is that it uses too many �big� words that undergraduates cannot be reasonably expected to know.

Here are some of the words singled out as being unreasonable to expect undergraduates to know: vapid, ineluctable, stultiloquence, oafish, fustian, salubrious, and inscrutable. Some of these words are obviously less common, thus harder, than others; and perhaps some of them count as �big.� But each of the words was used in a context that gave strong clues about its meaning. And we are talking about university students here, all of whom are supposed to have had several years of English classes. Is it really unreasonable to expect them to know these words? What is it reasonable to expect them to know, then?
[sigh] Poor Prof. Otteson is not accustomed to students here at SCSU, who not only don't think they have to know these words but don't even have to go to class (last letter)
in one of my classes this semester, I had received an 'A' on all aspects of the coursework cited in the syllabus, but recently I was threatened with receiving no credit for the course because the professor had tallied five absences on my part, two more than allowed for in the syllabus.

This is ridiculous. I have obviously shown through knowledge and comprehension of the subject, so how should it be possible for me to be stripped of all the effort and hard work I put forth?

Being a professor at this university requires and enormous educational background, so where along the line did some of these professors forget what it is like to be a college student? Life does not consist solely of school. Students, like everyone else, have jobs, family concerns, health problems and sometimes are just too exhausted to make it to class. What right does a professor have to pass judgment on the pressing issues surrounding a student's life outside the classroom? And what is more is that the student's tuition is allocated by the university to pay the salaries of the professors, so I think it is only just for those professors to show some courtesy and flexibility with their attendance policies and not be so dictatorial when administering those guidelines.
This is an example of at least one of the words that Prof. Otteson has been told to remove. If you can't figure out which one, you should read a different blog.