The authors provide an account of the academic culture at community colleges.
“Stories from the Front” is the first chapter of The Academic Crisis of the Community College written by Professors Dennis McGrath and Martin Spear. In their book the authors describe the development of community college curricula from the early 1950s to the early 1990s. The book has been hailed as a very timely insider account of the academic crisis confronting community colleges today. A recent reviewer describing the book in Contemporary Sociology (a scholarly journal) wrote:
This is a book based not upon quantitative data but on the authors’ analysis of the works of others and on their own reasoned observations. McGrath and Spear are at their best when describing the realities of the community college classroom, the intellectual isolation and dispirited resignation of its faculty, and the trendy attempts to fix problems and clarify goals by patchwork adjustments to the curriculum. (Ann S. Sundgren)
Let’s see what we can say about that “crisis” from the introductory chapter you’ve been assigned to read.
Consider in turn each of the three stories that the authors relate. According to the authors, what is supposed to be interesting or peculiar about each one? The third story is somewhat different from the first two. How does it relate to those others? What do the authors make of the stories?
Why do the authors tell these stories? Who is the audience for them, and what effect is the storytelling supposed to have on them, do you think?
How would you line up the Saltzman article (How Good Are Community Colleges?) with McGrath and Spear? Is he in agreement with M/S that the academic culture at community colleges is in crisis? How is Saltzman coming into the conversation about community colleges? (500 word) Essay 2
Lessons Learned from Combat Stories
Some students frequently interpret the chapter from the book by McGrath and Spear
as either recommending that community college faculty simply get “tougher” with
wayward and obnoxious students, or as a kind of handbook for wayward students
that might advise them to “straighten up and fly right.” Do either of those
understandings of their chapter appear right to you? How would someone move from
the details of community college students presented by M&S to one or the other of
those two positions?
(500 word) Essay 3
Rose lets his readers know a lot about the personal lives of Marita and Lucia. At times, it’s difficult not to let your knowledge of their family troubles or high school experiences influence any sympathy you have for them. And, of course, being sympathetic has its virtues since it permits you to understand how the two students Rose discusses found themselves in the kind of trouble they were in at the university. But if that sympathy is to prove useful, one should be able to move from that sympathy to recommendations that might address the harmful influences on the lives of Marita and Lucia. In Rose’s view, for example, is there anything that classroom instructors can do to help overcome Marita’s or Lucia’s disadvantaged background?
If not to instructors, then is Rose offering advice to other counselors about what to do with someone like Lucia?
What if Rose’s background, instead of being in psychology, was in math? As far as we can tell from his description of their exchanges in his office, would he have been able to help Marita as he apparently did?