Few have a way with words like Stanley Fish. The provocateur, whose early Milton scholarship is still dear to my heart, has made it a point to take the rhetorical path less trodden. In this essay from the fantastic Lapham’s Quarterly, Fish argues that professors and teachers need to know their institutional role and do it. Period. He writes at one point:
It is when academics either don’t know or have forgotten exactly what it is they are supposed to do that trouble begins, and criticisms of the academic enterprise multiply. These days, everyone, whether speaking from the left or the right, says the same thing—colleges and universities are in a sorry state, and ideology is the problem. One group finds ideology in the efforts of activists like David Horowitz, who wishes to monitor and alter the political make-up of the faculty, especially in the humanities and social sciences; while the other group finds ideology in the inability or unwillingness (these are two different arguments) of liberal faculty members to refrain from imposing their political views on students.
Read the rest here. It’s worth it.