I know we shouldn’t be surprised by things like this anymore but it’s still disappointing.

Jim Windham of See Thru Edu reports.

NAS Study: U.S. College Reading Assignments Teach “Progressive Activism”

The National Association of Scholars released its annual comprehensive survey of books assigned to entering college freshmen this week (Beach Books 2013-2014: What Do Colleges Want Students to Read Outside Class?) and it was true to form.  This year the survey reached 341 colleges and universities, including 51 ranked among the top 100 National Universities and 28 ranked among the top 100 National Liberal Arts Colleges by U. S. News & World Report, and the 231 books they assigned. To the surprise of almost no one, a major conclusion was that, according to the report, “American colleges and universities are using freshman summer reading assignments to introduce students to progressive activism.”

Several of the more significant findings in the report included:

  • Of the assigned books, 96 percent were published in 1990 or later, 51 percent in 2010 or later; recent, trendy, and intellectually unchallenging books are dominant.
  • Multiculturalism was the most popular subject category and social activism was close to the top; clearly, progressive political themes are emphasized.
  • Conspicuously lacking were the classics, older literary fiction, good modern literature, and history, which was completely missing.
  • Colleges increasingly see these common reading assignments as exercises in community building more than preparation for serious academic life.

To be fair, the study identified and commended 19 institutions that chose books that treated serious academic subjects with depth, but these were clearly a small minority.