What’s the point of being a professor?

In today’s New York Times, Emory University professor Mark Bauerlein offers a stinging criticism of the culture of higher education. He bemoans the fact that 43% of students are given As for their work (it was only 15% decades ago) and that more than 80% of students are more concerned with making money than they are with moral and worldly understanding. Among his greatest outrages was a recent gathering at which an Emory dean told the students not to get too involved in their course-work because there is so much more going on at the university. You can find the entire article here.

I think that Bauerlein makes some very salient points and I too am concerned that college students’ expectation that “learning is fun” sets up an unrealistic educational paradigm. Though I am often the first person in line for a good time, I do think that intense learning environments can be inherently difficult and uncomfortable. And I’m not sure that we do much service to undergraduate students or societal culture at large by leading them to think otherwise.