Bioethics Blogs

Obsessed with Smartness

I came across an article published recently in The Chronicle
of Higher Education with the rather surprising title: “Are Colleges Too
Obsessed With Smartness?”

I have spent the last forty-eight years at one college or
another as a student, fellow or faculty member and for nearly all of that time
I have always thought of smartness as a good and admirable thing in those who
taught me, those I taught, and my colleagues. I thought therefore, that it
might be worth taking a look to find out exactly what he meant by “smartness”
and what he thought was wrong with higher educators being interested in
smartness. I will admit that I began reading with the idea that the contention
might possibly be misguided. I also went into that consideration aware of the
frequency with which overreaching statements made in The Chronicle of Higher
Education by retired professors really mean that they are promoting a book. In
this case the latter was true but I will not name the book as I do not wish to
promote it.

Eric Hoover, Professor Emeritus at UCLA actually appears to
define smartness pretty much the same way everybody else does “in the
traditional sense, kids who get the highest grades and testy scores.” He
objects that the “emphasis on these students” is “to the detriment of everybody
else”. He does not really provide much of an argument, in this article, how
this is to the detriment of everybody else. It may very well be true that these
students have an advantage in gaining admission to some institutions and being
awarded certain scholarships.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.