Readers will recall the appearance, in the summer of 2008, of an article in the Atlantic by a pseudonymous Professor X [insert X-Men joke here to flaunt pop-culture cred] that relayed his experience teaching basic English courses at two colleges, one a four-year, private institution and the other a community college. Professor X found his students deficient in?primary information?they can't spell, can't form a coherent sentence on the page, and make fundamental mistakes (e.g., confusing Hamlet, the character,?with Shakespeare, his author) that many elementary-school students would not.?X's point was that too many students who are in college shouldn't be. The piece caused enough controversy that a publisher thought it should be expanded to 240 pages. Coming next week to Amazon.com on a computer screen near you: In the Basement of the Ivory Tower, the book. One thing to say about it is that this Professor X can write. His sentences are invigorating even when his content is plodding.
?Liam Julian, Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow