"After my first year of teaching, troubled by the unclear, disorganized, and utterly unaesthetic papers written by students who had, in theory, received the best (and certainly the most expensive) educations in the country, I tried a new method to inspire them to improve their writing. In my office hours, after confronting a student with the revisions they would have to make to whichever assignment, I would ask them to tell me the last book they had enjoyed reading. My naive expectation was that in response to their answer I could send them off to analyze what had made its author’s writing style seem so effective.
The exercise was a failure. Most students had not read a book for pleasure for years; they had no time. Even in college, away from their parents’ schedules, they kept themselves busy with student organizations that are often indistinguishable from classes (the finance and consulting clubs, membership in which is highly sought after, assign homework and study sessions). They have—or give themselves—no opportunity to read what they like."
Or what about this:
"Students write poorly because they have been stripped of agency. What they have instead of an internal locus of control, the ability to form their own personal standards and adhere to them, are stories, usually written by other people on their behalf, about how by dint of hard work and personal talent they have surmounted powerful and malevolent social structures. Such images of themselves, whether expressed in terms of the older meritocratic ideal or its new woke competitor, are a kind of camera obscura in which the students’ real powerlessness, their lack of even the most basic components of private life such as leisure time and personal taste, their total beholdenness to hegemonic social norms, are inverted.
Young people whose self-understandings are organized by narratives about their heroic resistance against racism and sexism, and excellence in the face of adversity, are rewarded by the university—and will be rewarded by employers, media, and other sources of legitimation—for their deft combination of meritocratic and woke discourses. They will have no reason to notice that they are kicking down open doors—that, far from racism and sexism holding back their access to elite spaces, they are being invited in on the basis of their ability to perform triumph over oppression."