I sometimes worry that my wife Paula won’t be able to see me grow old. Not that I expect to outlive her. She is four years my junior and has the blood pressure of a 17-year-old track star. It’s her … Continue reading →
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I came across an article published recently in The Chronicle of Higher Education with the rather surprising title: “Are Colleges Too Obsessed With Smartness?”
I have spent the last forty-eight years at one college or another as a student, fellow or faculty member and for nearly all of that time I have always thought of smartness as a good and admirable thing in those who taught me, those I taught, and my colleagues. I thought therefore, that it might be worth taking a look to find out exactly what he meant by “smartness” and what he thought was wrong with higher educators being interested in smartness. I will admit that I began reading with the idea that the contention might possibly be misguided. I also went into that consideration aware of the frequency with which overreaching statements made in The Chronicle of Higher Education by retired professors really mean that they are promoting a book. In this case the latter was true but I will not name the book as I do not wish to promote it.
Eric Hoover, Professor Emeritus at UCLA actually appears to define smartness pretty much the same way everybody else does “in the traditional sense, kids who get the highest grades and testy scores.” He objects that the “emphasis on these students” is “to the detriment of everybody else”. He does not really provide much of an argument, in this article, how this is to the detriment of everybody else. It may very well be true that these students have an advantage in gaining admission to some institutions and being awarded certain scholarships. Is this necessarily bad? I am not sure I believe this is a problem. There are many scholarships awarded on the basis of need. Is it wrong that some are awarded on merit?
When I served as a consultant to my local public school system I learned that the curriculum was aimed at the average students and that there were many programs in place to assist lower achieving students. The smartest students were often left underserved, bored and uninterested and as a result underachieving. I was happy to advocate and help design programs for these students.
There are many opportunities in place where a student’s innate qualities may be to their advantage. When I made my rather marginal attempts to succeed on my high school football team I accepted the fact that the largest, strongest, fastest players had an advantage. In defense of my teammates I will note that many of them were quite smart as well. I do not think there is anything wrong with obtaining advantage based on being smart, especially in an educational system in a society and economy which rewards merit and accomplishment. I could not have achieved much if I had to be strong and fast to succeed. I am glad there was an opportunity for me to achieve and succeed based on the things I was able to do. I am glad that others will also be able to succeed based on what they can do.
The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and Graduate Certificates in Clinical Ethics and Clinical Ethics Consultation. For more information on AMBI's online graduate programs, please visit our website.
by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.
I have a slide that I use when teaching my students about clinical ethics: “80% of ethics consults are about communication.” The only evidence base I have for this statement is a 2005 Norwegian study with a very small subject pool. A more recent study identified communication issues in 45-51% of all cases. Thus, I was not surprised to see an ABC News piece earlier this week, “Just 5% of Terminally Ill Cancer Patients Fully Understand Prognosis, Study Finds.”
Of course that turns out not to be the whole story. In pre-intervention interviews with patients, only 5% of oncology patients could correctly answer four questions about their illness: Recognizing the disease was incurable, knowing the “advanced stage of their disease,” acknowledging a short life expectancy, and acknowledging they have a terminal illness.…
by David Wendler, PhD
The distribution of resources around the globe is characterized by staggering inequalities and inequities, with the result that individuals in lower income countries have greater disease burden and shorter lives than individuals in high-income countries. Commentators on research ethics are well aware of this concern and have searched for ways to design and conduct clinical trials to help to address it. Much of this work focuses on how to protect individuals and communities in lower income countries from exploitation. In particular, what requirements are needed to prevent clinical investigators and funders from wrongly using participants and communities in lower income countries to develop new interventions for the benefit of high-income countries?…
There have been many wonderful new medications in the past decade or so, drugs that finally bring hope for many people with serious illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and even some advanced cancers. But these drugs often come at … Continue reading →