What an outstanding commencement issue(July/August). We were saying “Wow!” as we turned each page. Thestudent profiles were a meaningful enhancement.
Shawn Cherry ’79
As a student who, from kindergarten through his senior year at Brown, anxiously memorized, regurgitated, and then promptly forgot es-sentially all that well-meaning but usually boring subject matter, I was vastly amused by the fact that four years at the University now cost almost $156,000 (“Serious Fun,” July/August).
One researcher calculated back in the 1960s that if one were to invest, at 7.5 percent interest, the $35,000 needed for an Ivy League education, by age sixty-five one would have $75,000 more in the bank than one would have by virtue of earning a college degree. I haven’t redone the figures, but as Paul Krugman has written, “The real earnings of the typical college graduates actually fell in 2004.” I wouldn’t be surprised to find that we might be able to duplicate the earlier work.
All of which suggests that Brown and all the Ivies should stop schooling and start educating. One way would be to make the reward for learning, as demonstrated through commentary, questions, argument, and papers, freedom from all examinations. Graduate schools and businesses would then have to give their own tests for admission.
At the very least, we should be abolishing that Prussian-derived, factory-oriented teach-’em, test-’em curriculum and, as probably happens from time to time at Brown, stimulate them with good books and other interesting material—including the wisdom of various professors.
Robert E. Kay ’53
I have always been ambivalent about my Brown experience, sensing at times a certain arrogance and attitude of entitlement; the outrage at President Gee’s departure comes to mind. I attended Commencement this year and found it was effectively managed. After the three main events staged on the Green, however, I was amazed at the ocean of trash left behind. There was hardly any grass left to see. The trash had been cast down by people too self-absorbed to walk fifty feet to a receptacle, obviously expecting the administration and its workers to clean up after them. Wherein dwells the heart and soul?
Chris Parker ’66