The Academic Revolution

The Academic Revolution

The Academic Revolution

The Academic Revolution

Excerpt

We finished writing The Academic Revolution in August 1967. The events of the ensuing academic year, especially the crisis at Columbia, made some of what we had written seem dated even before it was published in May 1968. Since then there have been more upheavals, notably at San Francisco State. While we do not think these events invalidate our general argument, they do raise questions which we treated rather cursorily in the original edition. Unfortunately, we have been able to make only minor changes in the second edition, clarifying some of the murkier prose and correcting minor errors of fact and interpretation. We have not made any substantial changes in the argument, nor have we tried to bring our examples up to date.

If we were writing today we would probably pick another title. Our choice of The Academic Revolution led most people to expect a book about the current student revolts. Many readers felt cheated when they found us writing about the earlier and duller revolution in which the academic profession had freed itself from effective lay control. It is true that we discuss the generational conflict, which underlies today's campus turmoil, in Chapter 2. But we do so from the viewpoint of adults rather than adolescents. Our aim is to explain how the system got to be the way it is, how it maintains itself, and how its internal contradictions may force it to change. We devote relatively little space to explicating the students' feelings about it all: what they want, why they want it, and how they have set about getting it. Under these circumstances we might have called the book The Academic Professions instead of The Academic Revolution.

A more serious difficulty raised by the upheavals of the past eighteen months is that many people now read the book in a very different spirit from the one in which it was written. When we first began work on higher education in the late 1950s, both educators and laymen seemed appallingly complacent about American higher education. There was much talk after Sputnik about the intellectual deficiencies of elementary and secondary schools, but the only widespread complaints about higher education were that Americans needed more of it and that the professors were underpaid and treated with insufficient respect.

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