I love my students

I’m not one of those professors who says, “I love my students,” but…I love my students.

This semester, I’m teaching the department capstone seminar. For the first half, I have the students read classics of political economy, from Aristotle through Gary Becker. In the second half, they choose a book about the contemporary political economy, and write an analysis of it through the lens of, or against the grain of, one of our class readings. They also do a class presentation of their final papers, something I haven’t tried since my first year at Brooklyn College.

So tonight was our first night of presentations. One student had chosen as his text Mark Blyth’s Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea, which he used to very powerful effect as a critique of Hayek, whom we had read in class. Then, in the middle of our discussion of his paper, another student asked, “After reading Hayek, do you think you can truly value something if you don’t have to pay for it?” Bam, the conversation’s off!

Another student used Aristotle’s Ethics and his Politics as a launching point for Elisabeth Armstrong’s and Laura Hamilton’s Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality. She did a great analysis of how Aristotelian hierarchies of labor, leisure, and knowledge are reproduced by colleges and universities today. Then, in our discussion of her paper, another student asks, tentatively, timidly, “What…would happen … if we separated … the economy … from … education?” The class explodes in discussion and debate.

I’m not one of those professors who says, “I love my students,” but…I love my students.

And as much as I complain about everything at CUNY, tonight is one of those nights when I feel truly sorry for those of you who don’t get a chance to teach here.


  1. xenon2 April 7, 2016 at 10:19 pm | #

    you could stream it.
    why keep it all to yourself?
    like C-SPAN already does.

    I would watch it.

  2. Jerry Sisti April 7, 2016 at 11:50 pm | #

    Very encouraging to hear. I’m very happy for you and your students.

  3. Bill Michtom April 8, 2016 at 12:15 am | #

    What xenon2 said. 🙂

  4. Nqabutho April 8, 2016 at 4:59 am | #

    ‘”What … would happen … if we separated … the economy … from … education?”‘

    Now that is absolutely an important question. That’s something we can work with. We need to be having similar discussions starting from questions like this in the classrooms of all our universities. If we separated the economy from education, what would then be possible?

  5. Andrew April 9, 2016 at 3:36 am | #

    I saw a tenure-track position at City College opened up for US history 1876 to the present. Would love to know who got it.

  6. Chris G April 9, 2016 at 12:42 pm | #

    > another student asks, tentatively, timidly, “What…would happen … if we separated … the economy … from … education?”

    That’s a good segue to a Chris Lasch quote I’ve shared a quite a bit recently:

    “… individuals cannot learn to speak for themselves at all, much less come to an intelligent understanding of their happiness and well-being, in a world in which there are no values except those of the market…. The market tends to universalize itself. It does not easily coexist with institutions that operate according to principles that are antithetical to itself: schools and universities, newspapers and magazines, charities, families. Sooner or later the market tends to absorb them all. It puts an almost irresistible pressure on every activity to justify itself in the only terms it recognizes: to become a business proposition, to pay its own way, to show black ink on the bottom line. It turns news into entertainment, scholarship into professional careerism, social work into the scientific management of poverty. Inexorably it remodels every institution in its own image.”

    • Will G-R April 9, 2016 at 5:50 pm | #

      @ Chris G: Which itself is a good segue into a certain other quotation:

      The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

      The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers.

      The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.

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