The Lack of Civility in Today’s Academic Discourse
Over the past year and a half I have published some 30 op-eds constructively critical of the status quo of higher education. Surprisingly, I have received few rebuttals, primarily because all of my pieces have been data-filled. I let the data do the talking.
Still, there are some who just cannot stand any criticism of the sacred cow of higher ed. But since they can’t attack the data, they attack me. As Edmund Burke observed, their passions forge their fetters. Here are some examples, which require no editorial analysis:
Being retired, I teach at a local community college purely for the fun of it. I enjoy watching diamonds in the rough and late bloomers emerge. One critic responded to one of my editorials, “Ronald Trowbridge—tenured professor at a 2nd tier community college.”
A professor at the University of Texas at Austin wrote to me, with a copy to a blog site: “You are not intelligent enough to teach at the University of Texas.”
Another critic wrote: “Ronald L. Trowbridge . . . uses numbers and disconnected arguments . . . and relies on fallacious logic.” He does not show how.
Two professors at the University of Houston co-authored a rebuttal, asserting: “Perhaps if Trowbridge learned how to do current research . . .” They concluded, “Trowbridge is advocating an end to research.”
One college instructor sent me a personal note intending to be mean. He said of a column of mine run in the Houston Chronicle: “’C’ work in my estimation. Sorry, perhaps a second draft was called for.”
I sometimes have a playful sense of humor in my pieces. In one I referred to my having attended college “back in the 19th century.” A professor at Texas A & M published a rebuttal, saying that he could not possibly pay any attention to someone who didn’t know in what century he went to college. Several others responded similarly that I was confused about centuries.
All of these professors are teaching our kids.