The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0550  Monday, 25 February 2002

From:           Jim Slager <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 23 Feb 2002 12:06:13 -0800
Subject:        How good are our educations?

I happened to stumble across the following abstract for a 1997 WSJ

The Wall Street Journal
Page A16
(Copyright (c) 1997, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)

Nicholas von Hoffman writing in the New York Observer, Jan. 27: Between
1980 and 1995, four-year college tuition rose 256 percent -- three times
the rate of inflation during the same period. If we used the same tools
of analysis that are being brought to bear to show that the
cost-of-living index is overstated, we would point out that the real
costs of college are much higher, because academic standards have
continued to slip since 1980 and we are, therefore, paying much more for
a service that is constantly slipping in quality. In terms of
equivalencies, a bachelor of arts degree in 1997 may not even be the
equal of a graduation certificate from an academic high school in 1947.

The last sentence got me thinking about an eight grade test from around
1900 that someone published a few years ago.  I found the test very
difficult.  One question that I can still remember was "name the 6
longest rivers in the world."

I'm not trying the raise the issue of slipping academic standards here
(although I think they probably are slipping) but rather the shift in
concentration over time.  The 1900 Eight Grade class likely spent a lot
of time on world geography while today world geography is crowded out by
other subjects.  What would young boys have spent their time on at the
King's New School in Stratford during young Will's time?  Schoenbaum
writes "[i]t offered about as much formal belletristic instruction as
was available in those days for an incipient man of letters.  The
universities had little to add, for their task was to train up men for
the professions..."

At the bottom of each Anti-Stratfordian attack seems to lie the belief
that Shakespeare couldn't have written Shakespeare because he wasn't
educated at a university.  Could this really be a modern day conceit by
which we try to inflate the value of our own educations?

Just wondering.

Jim Slager

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