Church of the savvy

Jay Rosen’s series of posts on “The Church of the Savvy” are well worth worth reading.

Savviness! Deep down, that’s what reporters want to believe in and actually do believe in— their own savviness and the savviness of certain others (including operators like Karl Rove.) In politics, they believe, it’s better to be savvy than it is to be honest or correct on the facts. It’s better to be savvy than it is to be just, good, fair, decent, strictly lawful, civilized, sincere or humane.

I don’t think it’s just the press and I don’t think this is that new. When I first went to college, I was surprised by the way the other students viewed everything as a system to try to beat. You didn’t take a class because the subject was interesting, you took it because the subject was fashionable, because the professor was about to become famous, etc. etc. It was important to be savvy, not curious. Curious was for weirdos and wall-flowers, savvy was for the winners.

I was never able to see things the same way after this.

75 replies
  1. 1
    Violet says:

    Are we genetically programmed to want to be one of the Cool Kids, or something? Seems like the “savvy” thing is just another way of wanting to be in the In Crowd – in the know, ahead of the curve, hanging with the right people – like in high school.

  2. 2
    celticdragonchick says:

    You didn’t take a class because the subject was interesting, you took it because the subject was fashionable, because the professor was about to become famous, etc. etc. It was important to be savvy, not curious. Curious was for weirdos and wall-flowers, savvy was for the winners.

    Screw that. I read books and take classes that I think are interesting. The “savvy” thing is pretentious pseudo intellectualism. Callow, facile nothingness.

  3. 3
    geg6 says:

    As I age, I am far more liable to believe that those that tend to think of themselves as “savvy” are really just stupid and lazy. Too stupid and lazy to actually understand what being “savvy” really means.

  4. 4
    DougJ says:

    @Violet:

    Maybe that is it. I think it was more about getting ahead than being cool, though.

  5. 5
    Punchy says:

    Savvy is a great scrabble word.

  6. 6
    DougJ says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    Obviously I agree.

  7. 7
    beltane says:

    Priding oneself on the ability to get over on others is nothing new. It is fitting, however, that those who think this way are the people whom it is easiest to dupe. Self-proclaimed “Savvy” people make the perfect victims for all manner of charlatans and crooks. Ask any con artist.

  8. 8
    ...now I try to be amused says:

    @Violet: I’m constantly reminded that we never get very far from high school. The senior executives at almost every company are the high school in-crowd.

  9. 9
    Sentient Puddle says:

    Me, my first reading of the word “savvy” is in the Jack Sparrow sense (“savvy?”).

    I’m tempted to say that I never bought into this idea of “being savvy” and knew of nobody that did, but I also get the sense that I might be bullshitting myself.

  10. 10
    Corner Stone says:

    “Savvy”…hmmm, I’ve heard this word recently during one of the hippie emo butthurt pre-emptive outrages…can’t quite place it.

  11. 11
    Davis X. Machina says:

    The Church of Savvy is one of the oldest religions going.

    In Plato’s allegorical Cave, those chained there were in the habit of conferring honors among themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to find patterns in which of them went before which, and which after which, and which shadows always appeared together; and to those who were best able to draw conclusions from them as to the future….

  12. 12
    Violet says:

    @DougJ:
    Getting ahead can be dependent on being cool. Or at least it can be aided by it. Especially for press jobs that depend on “access,” it’s likely that smooth operators get further. Dogged reporters probably get better info, but their careers might not be as good.

    @celticdragonchick:

    The “savvy” thing is pretentious pseudo intellectualism. Callow, facile nothingness.

    Agreed. It’s much more about how you look and come across than what you know and can do.

  13. 13
    mantis says:

    You didn’t take a class because the subject was interesting, you took it because the subject was fashionable, because the professor was about to become famous, etc. etc. It was important to be savvy, not curious. Curious was for weirdos and wall-flowers, savvy was for the winners.

    DougJ, where did you go to school, if I may ask? Things were not like that at my school, but maybe that’s because it is a public university. However, I work at a private university now, and I don’t see this much there either. Of course, it’s an engineering school, so the mindset of students is, umm, unique, perhaps.

  14. 14
    Chat Noir says:

    @DougJ: Me too. When I was in college, I didn’t care if a class was difficult, as long as it was interesting. And also if it counted towards retiring credits so I could get my degree.

  15. 15
    Violet says:

    @…now I try to be amused:

    I’m constantly reminded that we never get very far from high school. The senior executives at almost every company are the high school in-crowd.

    Yep. Although there are definitely plenty of high school in-crowd folks who are losers as adults. It doesn’t always work as a theory. But I’d be willing to bet that the majority of senior executives at companies have been In Crowd types their entire lives.

  16. 16
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Sentient Puddle:

    Me, my first reading of the word “savvy” is in the Jack Sparrow sense (“savvy?”).

    :D

    Heh!

  17. 17
    Yossarian says:

    This is so depressingly on-point.

    The savviness thing is even stronger in DC, I think, because of the permanent campaign mentality that afflicts many of the professionals (or maybe my cause-and-effect is backwards?). If you’re a campaign person, “winning” is the be-all, and what happens next is boring/immaterial/off-topic. You therefore move up the ladder as you compile tactical “wins,” and that becomes your currency. Unless you’re Bob Shrum, in which case actual success doesn’t even matter.

    A version of this happened last night, actually. I was at a bar in downtown DC with some old buddies, all of whom work on the Hill or in campaigns, and when talk turned to Paterson’s imbroglio with the staffer accused of domestic violence, the first reaction from these liberal, smart, talented, truly decent human beings who I am proud to call friends was “how could Paterson have talked to the woman himself. Don’t you get lackeys to do that sort of thing?” Not, “this was such an inappropriate abuse of power that involved bullying a woman into keeping silent about possible abuse,” although they were probably thinking about it in the back of their minds. Again, I stress that these are not bad people, not by a long shot. But DC trains you to think in terms of tactics and “savvy,” and expressing moral, substantive opinions out loud is almost considered bad form in some circles. It’s a wholly unhealthy dynamic and I wish I knew how to stop it.

  18. 18
    celticdragonchick says:

    @DougJ:

    I wasn’t trying to imply that you were engaging in the trend yourself. I’m sorry if I seemed to do that.

  19. 19
    geg6 says:

    @mantis:

    Yup, gotta agree. Like you, I went to a public and I also currently work at a large public. Never saw this attitude, except maybe among athletes and the not-very-good-students. Even the dumber than rocks engineering students here have intellectual curiosity, for the most part.

    Perhaps my experience and institutions are anomalies.

  20. 20
    DougJ says:

    @mantis:

    DougJ, where did you go to school, if I may ask?

    Harvard, which is where a lot of these reporters come from (and a lot are about my age too). Sometimes I’ll see something one has written and it’s like a flashback to all the bs.

  21. 21
    Perry Como says:

    Savvy:Marketing::Curious:Science

    Cool kids versus the nerds. Always has been, always will be.

  22. 22
    mantis says:

    Harvard

    Ah, now it becomes clear. ;)

  23. 23
    Betsy says:

    I actually feel extremely grateful that this was not my experience of college. I don’t know if it’s because of the nerdy, unpretentious other freshman who ended up on my floor, or if it was something about the university itself. But my absolute favorite thing about college, and something I’ve never been able to recapture, was the sense of curiosity and delight in learning and talking to people who knew different things than you did that seemed to be shared by most students around me. It’s probably why I’ve stayed close with those friends, even 10 years out.

  24. 24
    flounder says:

    Weird.
    I went to a community college and two public universities for science degrees, and I had so few opportunities to just take random stuff that wasn’t related to my degree that I just don’t remember this being an issue.
    Any “savvy” jockeying I did was trying to juggle chemistry labs to make sure I accidentally got in the same one as the cute girl who sat in front of me during lecture.

  25. 25
    Betsy says:

    @DougJ:
    OOOHHHHH. Yes, yes indeed. That does explain it, actually. There are some awesome kids there, but there is an unfortunate amount of hustling.

  26. 26
    Betsy says:

    @Perry Como:

    There are many other paths for the curious than science, ahem. Humanities, arts, public service, public policy…

  27. 27
    Corner Stone says:

    @mantis:

    Ah, now it becomes clear.

    You didn’t pick that up from when DougJ’s doing his BoB spoof?

  28. 28
    lawguy says:

    I suspect that the most confusing thing is that one would think that savey people were more often right than not. That doean’t seem to be one of the criteria for politics.

  29. 29
    SpotWeld says:

    Hmmm… it’s sort of like Min-maxing

    A “savvy” person is trying to maximize the benefit of a class or social occasion by opting to participate those that offer certain benefits beyond those that are core it it’s concept.

    A class is to provide you education on a topic. (Because it’s required for degree completion, or because you think you’ll need it, or want it). But a savvy person will maximize the class benefit beyond the cost of time spent attending (and tuition) by linking in additonal boons of networking and percieved status.

    The downfall to this in games is that you have a number of people locked into getting that perfect combo of specific achievements or skills that they utterly blow the core concept of being an actual participant in the game.

    The act of being savvy “becomes” the game.. and it’s solitare. Unless you are looking for a min-maxer to bolster your own min-maxing you don’t get much fun out of playing with them.

    In short, a “savvy” person in this instance makes concept of success a benchmark rather than an abitrary social judgement.

    You only want to be savvy so you can make other savvy people want to be around you and only other savvy people will want to be around you.

  30. 30
    Violet says:

    @Betsy:
    Yep, definite hustling. I worked in an environment with a bunch of extraordinarily smart and talented science-y types awhile ago. Many of them graduated from Harvard. And rarely did they let you forget it. “When I was at Harvard…,” “At Harvard we….” Etc. Really stupid and the non-Harvardites were excessively annoyed by it. Once you’re out of college, it doesn’t matter as much where you went as what you can produce and what you do.

  31. 31
    Citizen_X says:

    I’ll point out that faculty are drawn to the authentically curious. Thus, the poseurs and grifters might as well have flashing lights on them. (Plus, part of the art of teaching is drawing curiosity out of those who are initially reluctant.)

  32. 32
    celticdragonchick says:

    Having returned to college after twenty years to finish my long delayed degree, I can say that is has generally been delightful. My classes (with a couple of exceptions) have been well taught, interesting and allowed thoughtful, stimulating discussion. I should have done this sooner.

    I can say without caveat that my structural geology class last semester was the best science class of any sort I have ever had. I actually wrote in the evaluation that it should be taught in two parts over a year as to allow the entire text to be covered. Other than that, it was perfect, and the teacher (Prof. Angie Moore) is delightful.
    Every class should be like that!

  33. 33
    SpotWeld says:

    @Violet:

    Once you’re out of college, it doesn’t matter as much where you went as what you can produce and what you do.

    Unless the only thing you can produce is the status of being someone in the group who went to a particular college. Then it becomes critical that said status is often mentioned, and (and this is critical bit) it’s also important that you ensure everyone agrees that having gone to that college is still something worthy of status.

  34. 34
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    Aww fuck. We are 2nd Empire France. I always thought that George and Dick’s excellent adventure in Mesopotamia bore a more than passing resemblence to the bizarrely quixotic French attempt to take over Mexico, but this seals the deal.

    ‘Twould have been nice to have at least gotten a Daumier out of the whole rotten deal, but oh well…

  35. 35
    mercurino says:

    savvy was for the winners

    i’d say that this gets at the heart of the problem. any reporter at an elite publication has had to fight political battles against internal foes to get to the position they’re in, and that becomes the prism through which they come to analyze everything. that’s why they’re so enamored of figures like rove and emanuel.

  36. 36
    Kevin Phillips Bong says:

    @DougJ: Wow, it’s so rare someone just comes out and says it. I usually get the “Boston”, then after I ask again “Cambridge”, then finally “Harvard”, like they don’t want to make me feel bad because I didn’t go there.

  37. 37
    Betsy says:

    @Violet:
    Full disclosure – I didn’t go to Harvard for undergrad but I have taught there as a TA (TF in the weird parlance of the school).

    In defense of some of the students: for many of them, hustling is how they got to Harvard in the first place. It’s how they were taught to live their lives since before they could tie their shoes. I imagine that can be hard to turn off. And those aren’t always the ones from the well-to-do, social-capital-rich households – many of these kids come from working- to lower-class backgrounds, or are 1st/2nd generation immigrants, who have a tremendous drive to succeed, and thus worked to squeeze every possible advantage they could from the system. That’s especially true now that Harvard has improved its financial aid and recruiting efforts.

    For others, it can become an arms race – in order to keep up with the hustlers, they feel they have to hustle too.

    There are some who manage to avoid that whole game, and they are a pleasure to teach.

    Then, of course, there are those who are just enormous, entitled douchebags.

  38. 38
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    The thing about savvy is that it is a tragedy of the commons waiting to happen. When one person is trying to be savvy, they may gain a personal benefit relative to the non-savvy around them. But when an entire society is infected with the desire to be savvy, gangrene has set it.

  39. 39

    Violet asked:
    Are we genetically programmed to want to be one of the Cool Kids, or something?

    Well, yeah. Humans are social animals, and social animals always spend a lot of time jockeying for dominance and position. Indeed, since we *are* social mammals, why would you expect anything else?

    What makes it seem so high-school-y is that schools are especially small, sealed-off social worlds, and very “natural” in that respect. Human social dominance/manipulation/networking skills only really show up after age 10-12, so high school is generally the first place where we start to have stable social arrangements.

    Harvard, eh, DougJ? Poor dear.*g* I didn’t really see that kind of thing much when I went to Princeton (in the 70s), but I did see it among undergrads at Penn in the early 80s. At Penn it was definitely associated with Wharton, the business school, and it’s quite possible that the fact that Princeton has no B-school (or Law School) kept the Savvies at bay.

  40. 40
    J.W. Hamner says:

    @mantis:

    Of course, it’s an engineering school, so the mindset of students is, umm, unique, perhaps.

    I saw the “gaming the system” attitude in engineering school, but only for requirements outside your major. I was considered an idiot for taking courses where you had to write papers.

  41. 41
    jayackroyd says:

    My interview last night with Jay Rosen is up as a podcast at the itunes store. We did talk about the church of the savvy, and related issues. http://bit.ly/cnlfD0

  42. 42
    Xenos says:

    @DougJ: Not to be snarky about a college that did not accept me, but I think a fair bit of it is about Harvard. While significant subpopulations of Princeton, Stanford, and various and sundry potted ivies and such may have the same cynical and narcissistic traits, Harvard is cursed with these people.

    Think about it – a most exclusive school that has such a strong reputation for treating its low-status members (junior faculty, women faculty, undergraduates) so poorly. Who signs up for this crap? Bright, insecure people who need affirmation, and are more interested in self advancement than engaging in serious education. People who don’t mind if the system is crap because they are determined to beat that system and be winners.

    I could go on with the horror stories friends and family members have gone through there, but you know better than I what that place can do to people.

  43. 43
    georgia pig says:

    In politics, they believe, it’s better to be savvy than it is to be honest or correct on the facts.

    Isn’t this because there isn’t a whole lot of perceived value add you can give to “the facts” as a DC reporter, at least as reporting is currently defined? In DC, the “facts”, i.e., things that are objectively observable, are pretty straightforward and relatively limited (at least for things to the level of detail that most people pay attention), as opposed to massive mucus ball of subjective speculation that can be worked up about strategies and what particular politicians are thinking. I bet 90% of the crap on TV and in the papers is pure speculation. If DC reporters were limited to reporting the facts, there would likely be a hell of a lot less of them. Trading on “savvy” is akin to mortage backed securities on Wall Street, vapor work that keeps the company in business and bankrolls a nice lifestyle.

  44. 44
    mantis says:

    @J.W. Hamner:

    I saw the “gaming the system” attitude in engineering school, but only for requirements outside your major. I was considered an idiot for taking courses where you had to write papers.

    Indeed! It has less to do with being cool or savvy or whatever, and more to do with that engineering mindset of, “This is stupid. I’m smart. I’ll find a way to circumvent the stupid.”

  45. 45
    Pangloss says:

    Fuck you. And where’s mine?

  46. 46
    jayackroyd says:

    @DougJ

    At Harvard, I think a lot of that attitude has to do with the large number of legacy admissions. If you compared the attitudes of the kids in the “Porter program” (the student toilet scrubbers) I think they were a bit different.

  47. 47
    Barry says:

    From Jay Rosen: “As those who follow me on Twitter know, I’ve been keeping a public notebook on “the church of the savvy,” which is my name for the belief system that binds together our political press corps in Washington. Though they see themselves as the opposite of ideological, the people in the national press actually share an ideology: the religion of savviness. ”

    I would half-disagree with him because from what I’ve seen, this ‘savviness’ is usually deployed in favor of the economic elites, and against anybody who’d challenge them.

  48. 48
    slag says:

    @Xenos: Based on my experience, it’s not just (or even predominantly) a Harvard thing. I’m a public-schooler who studied abroad for a bit. The large majority of my cohort there were ivy leaguers from just about every big-name school you can imagine. And practically all of them exhibited this trait.

    Like DougJ, I was truly transformed by the experience. Before going abroad, I expected my cohort to be “intellectuals” in the true sense of the word–curious, open-minded, thoughtful. What I found was a self-conscious mass of cultural and pseudo-intellectual sleaze. Weirdly enough, I think the experience made me much more liberal than I had been before because it gave me direct and indisputable evidence that being wealthier was not remotely equivalent to being better.

  49. 49
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    It’s been decades since I was in college so I have a very practical question for you yung’ens who have encountered the Church of Savvy in it’s educational lair. I have school age kids and I want them to get a good education. If all options are open (I’m not saying they are, but just to simplify the conversation a bit lets leave some constraints out for the moment) where should I steer them towards to get the best possible ratio of:

    (good education) / (savvy disease) ?

    I’m not looking for specific schools so much as what kind of program?

  50. 50
    slag says:

    @jayackroyd: Nice lineup of opinionators, Jay. I’ll be checking out your podcasts asap.

  51. 51

    I don’t think that this is a Harvard thing, or even a private school thing, at all. My experience at the University of Minnesota is filled with people like this. As a Russian history professor of mine long ago said, students are the only consumers in the world who want the least amount for their money possible. As long as you make it easy for them to pass, most of them are happy. They bitch and moan if the class is difficult. Far and away the most reliable way to get good student evaluations is to avoid challenging them. This problem is worse at the business school, where it is mandated policy that classes be curved to a B+ median (A- in MBA classes), but true everywhere.

  52. 52

    LeftTurn:

    1. science.

    2. engineering, especially for girls.

    3. Classics

    4. visual arts — because it actually involves a very strict standard of actual work, especially at the pre-professional level.

  53. 53

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    I’m not looking for specific schools so much as what kind of program?

    Other than avoiding B-school, I don’t think it matters. If you go determined to get a good education, you’ll do that. If you go determined to skate by, you’ll do that, too. Far more important is choosing individual professors than programs in general, and then getting to know the professor and talking to them as much as possible.

  54. 54
    slag says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    I’m not looking for specific schools so much as what kind of program?

    These questions are hard because an individual’s preferences and needs are so personal. But, knowing what I know now, I think I probably would have benefitted more from a liberal arts school education. This supposition is based solely on what people who have gone to liberal arts schools have told me (ie, the education-to-sleaze ratio sounded pretty good). Of course, at the time I entered college I don’t think I even knew what a liberal arts school was, so who’s to say if it would have been right for me back then?

  55. 55
    Omes Omnibus says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: Small liberal arts college.

  56. 56
    Will says:

    I’ve always boiled it down to the media liking “winners” over “losers”. And when they smell a “loser”, they feel it is their duty to move in and finish him off.

  57. 57
    jayackroyd says:

    @slag

    You can listen live on BlogTalkRadio, or join the audience in Second Life. http://virtuallyspeaking.ning.com/ has upcoming guests. Thursdays at 9pm EST I interview someone, usually an author. Sundays at 8pm EST a pair of bloggers discuss the news of the week, a contrast to the sabbath gasbags.

    This Sunday is Cliff Schecter and digby. This coming Thursday is Max Blumenthal, followed by Karl Frisch of MMA on the 18th, and then on the 25th James Fallows and Bruce Schneier.

  58. 58
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Small liberal arts college.
    Stupid typo in my nym got me moderated.

  59. 59
    Jim Pharo says:

    Savviness is a way of being special, and so if common to all humans. But the way it’s been used by our media-politico complex is only partly based on general kewl-kidz-ness.

    Savvy is used to cover and hide the lack of knowledge, expertise, reading, etc., that plagues these people today. When reporters are hired because they look nice and can read on the tee-vee without getting nervous, it’s no surprise that these reporters value inside knowledge. It’s a way of saying, ‘even though I may not know much, I know a secret. Believe me, if you knew what I know, you’d agree with me.’ It’s a trick to put the evidence out of bounds for evaluation, and it’s slowly sinking our elites (which on balance is a good thing — give me Greenwald any day over, say, Joe Klein).

  60. 60
    DougJ says:

    @slag:

    Before going abroad, I expected my cohort to be “intellectuals” in the true sense of the word—curious, open-minded, thoughtful. What I found was a self-conscious mass of cultural and pseudo-intellectual sleaze.

    Yes, exactly.

  61. 61
    slag says:

    @jayackroyd: Sounds great! I never do live–only memorex. The world turns on my schedule or it doesn’t turn at all, is my motto. I’ll be listening to you and Jay Rosen when I do some spring cleaning today. Well…either you or the WH’s livability and sustainability conference…but probably you.

  62. 62
    jayackroyd says:

    @slag

    The second life part is actually quite interesting. People engage in open text chat, including asking questions of the guest. This allows conversations to take place about what is being discussed without interfering with the speakers, and makes filtering questions easier. (I cannot stand people who tell their life’s story in lieu of asking a question at panel discussions.)

  63. 63
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @J. Michael Neal:

    If you go determined to get a good education, you’ll do that. If you go determined to skate by, you’ll do that, too. Far more important is choosing individual professors than programs in general, and then getting to know the professor and talking to them as much as possible.

    Agreed. Unfortunately I sort of already knew this.

    and this:

    students are the only consumers in the world who want the least amount for their money possible

    Actually I was planning on not sending my kids to college until they can conjugate this phrase in Latin, like the “Romanes eunt domus” scene from The Life of Brian, just to make sure they get the point. And only because the whole “tattooed on the underside of their eyelids” thing might get me in trouble with child protective services.

    Thanks everybody else for the suggestions. I was thinking small liberal arts college, too. Wish me luck robbing a bank to pay for it.

  64. 64
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    I was thinking small liberal arts college, too. Wish me luck robbing a bank to pay for it.

    Most have pretty good fin. aid systems. Not overly loan based.

  65. 65
    Xenos says:

    Small liberal arts colleges are having wildly different problems with their endowments and their ability to extend financial aid. Some are much less able to provide help than they were able to a couple years ago. If you go this route make sure to apply to many of them and then shop around the financial aid offers.

    Good luck!

  66. 66
    Sentient Puddle says:

    @mantis:

    Indeed! It has less to do with being cool or savvy or whatever, and more to do with that engineering mindset of, “This is stupid. I’m smart. I’ll find a way to circumvent the stupid.”

    A ha, now this does remind me of my experience. I was adding a minor in technical communications on top of my CS degree, and one of the classes I was required to take was something along the lines of persuasion in media, or something of the sort. Probably the kind of class that the “savvy” folk would want to take…and me, I was only taking it because it was a requirement for the minor. I still don’t remember much of what I was supposed to learn in that class.

    So the vast majority of the grade came from a final presentation at the end of the semester, and again, I still don’t know what the hell I was supposed to demonstrate that I knew. So, given that the political leanings of the professor are as plain as day, I decide to make a presentation where I essentially bash the hell out of Bill O’Reilly. Because hey, the course is on persuasive media, and politics is a persuasive game. I think I came out with one of the highest grades in the class. The only other person I knew could rival me did a presentation bashing the Drudge Report.

    So does this count as being savvy, or gaming the system? Or really, is there a difference between the two? I’m not sure I see one.

  67. 67
    Davis X. Machina says:

    ….students are the only consumers in the world who want the least amount for their money possible

    Actually I was planning on not sending my kids to college until they can conjugate this phrase in Latin

    Discipuli emptores soli in omni orbe terrarum sunt, qui quam minimum pro pecunia sua emere cupiunt. (Just in case…)

  68. 68
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Davis X. Machina:
    Thanks for reminding me why I love this blog.

  69. 69
    asiangrrlMN says:

    My school was not like that. Or, maybe it was, but I was too uncool to care. I basically took the classes that interested me (including auditing Latin because I love the language) and worked for my requirements as well. Then again, I have never been cool, so it’s not really on my radar of things to which I should aspire.

  70. 70
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Thanky.

    It is becoming clear that the customer-satisfaction model will eventually do in the 21st c. what the Goths (both flavors, Ostra- and Visa-), Vandals, Avars, Huns, Vikings plagues, and climate change weren’t able to do in the 5th-9th c. — kill off education.

  71. 71
    celticdragonchick says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    Guilford College is an excellent small liberal arts school.

    Especially for hippies… ;)

    It’s a very liberal Quaker institution with a strong emphasis on social justice.

  72. 72
    Betsy says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:
    I think it’s not so much about the KIND of program so much as the reputation of the campus culture/kinds of students it attracts. Such reputations can become self-fulfilling prophecies.

    So basically, look for a place where the students have a reputation for being happy, creative, service-oriented, politically engaged, or what have you.

    At my university there were no distribution requirements, only the requirements of your chosen major. You really were responsible for your own education. And thus it generally attracted students who cared enough about what they studied to have opinions about it, to put time and energy into designing a set of courses that suited them. Of course this could be (and was) used to take the laziest possible path, but I think it was a minority of students who did that.

  73. 73
    Yutsano says:

    @asiangrrlMN:

    Then again, I have never been cool

    I am afeared I must disagree with your premise good lady.

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    DougJ says:

    @Yossarian:

    Thanks for a great comment.

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    someBrad says:

    Seems to me that a big reason reporters are drawn to the savvy approach is scarcity. Anyone can report the facts, but it takes access and experience to get the secrets and understand the motives. I’d be very interested in an historical analysis, because I suspect that this started as a marginal advantage for the reporters who could tell you not only what was happening but what it means.

    Of course, now everyone is doing it, and doing it poorly. And because access and savvy go hand in hand, supposedly savvy reporters frequently carry water with a kind of unbelievable naiveté.

    In fact, this last part is, to me, the most interesting aspect of the whole savvy thing. You have this veteran political reporter/columnist (take Milbank) who is steeped in savvy. One of his insider buddies tells him a story (about Rahm) where the most interesting angle, by far, is what message is that person trying to send to whom (theories abound). But this reporter/columnist writes the story as if s/he just fell off the turnip truck because to write the interesting story would not serve the source’s interests and s/he would lose the access. So it becomes the task of his/her colleagues to decode the message for us yokels.

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