Dr. Jordan Peterson, a plain-spoken clinical psychologist, and former Harvard professor who is now at the University of Toronto, has made quite a name for himself within the last several years. He attracts audiences of thousands as he travels the world speaking in an unvarnished fashion on numerous topics. His best-selling book, “12 Rules for Life,” is so wildly successful that it is being translated into 40 languages.
I recently viewed his YouTube interview by New York Times reporter, Bari Weiss, titled, “Jordan Peterson: From the Barricades of the Culture Wars,” and want to relate a portion of the video dealing with his views on universities, particularly on American ones. I’m interested in bringing you this at this time, as America rethinks its investment in higher education, and the burdens placed on students and their families. I'm not presenting his views as fact, and do suggest that you view other of his videos in order to establish your own opinion of his credibility.
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Bari Weiss: You recently said that what universities have done is "beyond forgiveness." I wondered if you could explain what you mean by that—and a second, connected question: should we abolish universities?
Jordan Peterson: No, they’ll do that themselves.
BW: Let’s hear a little bit about what they’ve done that you think renders them beyond forgiveness.
JP: Well, they’re overwhelmingly administratively top-heavy; and they don’t spend any more money on the faculty than they did 30 years ago; and the cost of that administrative top-heaviness, which is well documented—not by me, by other people—has accelerated over the last 20 years. There has been a radical increase in tuition fees… The way that’s been managed is that unsuspecting students are given free access to student loans that will cripple them through their 30s and their 40s, and the universities are enticing them to extend their carefree adolescence for a four-year period, at the cost of mortgaging their future earnings, in a deal that does not allow for escape through bankruptcy. So it’s, essentially, a form of indentured servitude.
(JP, continues:) There’s no excuse whatsoever for that. … That cripples the economy, because the students come out overladen with debt that they’ll never pay off, right at the time when they should be right at the peak of their ability to take entrepreneurial risks. So they can’t do that, because they’re too crippled by debt. That’s absolutely appalling. …
(The universities are) allowing for the distribution of (the)… absolutely nonsensical view that Western society is fundamentally a patriarchal tyranny, which is absurd … but is becoming increasingly the thing you have to believe, if you’re allowed to speak in public. … They’re not teaching students to read critically. They’re not introducing them to great literature. They’re not teaching them to write. The list goes on and on and on. …The reason that they’re exposed to great literature, for example—because there is such a thing. …is because great literature contains the key to wisdom, and you need wisdom to be able to live without undo suffering. …
There are plenty of qualified professors, who are still doing a good job. But they’re being pushed out very rapidly, and terrified, as well, by the activist disciplines.
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So, when you are putting out time and money for a college degree, treat it like you treat any other expenditure, asking, What am I getting for what I’m giving? Don’t stray from that resolve. Students, parents, is Peterson right or wrong, in your experience? Please share your experiences with me at email@example.com, or in a letter to the editor, or Spout Off. Thank you.