The Chronicle of Higher Education has an opinion piece on how univeristy professors in the humanities are giving in to “fashionable fatalism” in the face of attacks on the field and its teachers: dwindling undergraduate enrollments, declining public respect, right-wing attacks that caricature humanistic study as evidence-free ideological indoctrination, and a lack of jobs. There is a sizable of minority of educators who just give up:

Fashionable fatalism is different from genuine despair. It involves pessimism shot through with condescension, joined with the reflexive dismissal of proposed remedies. The fashionable fatalist does not undertake a careful examination of worrying trend lines and decide that giving up is, in some specific case, the most rational course of action. Instead, she derives narcissistic solace — the thrill of martyrdom — from her unshakable certainty that matters can never improve.

The article concludes with this:

The feeling of helplessness in matters of grave importance is not a problem faced just by academic humanists. It is a universal human predicament. How we respond may teach us something about ourselves.

That’s right, professors. Time to leave the ivory tower and suffer with the rest of us.

Fashionable fatalism in education

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