Breaking News: Humanities in Decline! Film at 11.

by Michael Bérubé on November 16, 2010

<a href=”″>Drew Gilpin Faust does a reasonably good job of defending the study of the  humanities</a> in this brief interview, especially after interviewer Tamron Hall’s second question puts the concepts of “critical thinking” and “imagination” on the table.  But I have to say that the whole thing gets off to a false start — no, wait, hold the phone, make that <i>two</i> false starts.

The second false start is the opening of Faust’s response to the first question, which raises the likely possibility that the “perhaps the occupation of an art historian won’t pay the bills.”

<blockquote>Well, I think that the issue of jobs is sometimes misunderstood by students.  We have many Harvard undergraduates who did major, as we say at Harvard concentrate, in the humanities who’ve gone on to be very prosperous and to be very successful in fields like business and a wide range of professional fields.  So what you study as an undergraduate is not necessarily the path that you will follow professionally once you leave school.  And in fact humanities majors, a wide range of liberal arts majors, prepare you very well for a variety of different fields.  So I think students need to understand that as they make their choices as undergraduates.</blockquote> [click to continue…]

The Political Economy of Autism Education

by Henry Farrell on November 16, 2010

“Laura at 11D”:

bq. Our next IEP is a big one. Every four years, a child must be tested in a variety of ways. We met back in August to discuss which tests would need to be done on Ian. He was tested for speech, IQ, educational levels, and audio-processing. He went through his first battery of tests back when he was four, so it will interesting to see how far he’s progressed. So, why is an IEP a game of chess? Because I want Ian to receive more therapy and the school district wants him to have less. … Every school district assigns a case worker to supervise your child. Their stated mission is to represent the interests of the child. However, the real mission of the case worker is to limit the amount of money that a school district spends on the child.

bq. He needed to be in a specialized school that had experienced teachers and ABA specialists. Instead, he went to a half-day program in our school with a general special ed teacher, who had no idea of how to work with him. The school district wanted to keep him there, because it was cheaper than sending him to a full day program in another district. They knew that he needed extra help. They discouraged me from going to a neurologist, who would have given us that very important diagnosis. When I was in distress about his education, they told me to stop worrying and get a manicure.

bq. We have a superintendent who gets up in public forums and announces that we are one autistic child away from blowing the budget. Town council members have said in public sessions that we can’t build any more houses in our town, because a family might move in with an autistic child and it will cost us $100,000. During our recent town budget crisis, another case manager in our town said that our expenses are so high, because we pay our therapists too much money. There is a witch-hunt atmosphere around special ed students.

bq. … So, I will enter a conference room in the next few weeks with a carefully arranged speech and specific demands. If Ian needs five hours of after school therapy, I’ll ask for ten. Maybe we’ll get three hours, if we’re lucky.

Tom Waits, Glitter and Doom

by John Holbo on November 16, 2010

This NPR Concerts presentation of Tom Waits, live, on his Glitter and Doom tour, may be the best damn concert recording I’ve ever heard. You can also get it through iTunes. Search NPR concerts.