Zoom: Educational Boon or Learning Doom?

by Dylan McIntyre 

Online education is a pretty polarizing topic nowadays. Most of us are experiencing it firsthand, and after several months of using Zoom, chances are you either love its flexibility and leniency (how else would I get to attend lectures in pajamas?) or you just want to throw your stupid laptop out the window because your background image has been permanently burned into your retinas. With all the controversy surrounding “Zoom University,” it’s worth considering whether online school is actually a viable teaching method. Virtual education has existed for a while now, but in times of COVID-19, it has quickly become the standard to ensure safety for students. But is this an appropriate standard for a modern, technological world?

Interlude | Finding Wisdom in Cosmic Cows

One must still have cows within oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. -Friedrich Nietzsche
Okay, so maybe that isn’t exactly how the quote goes. Maybe I’m grossly misrepresenting the intentions of good ol’ Friedster. Maybe I’m committing some kind of appalling literary vandalism that’ll get me blacklisted by any PhD program I might one day deign to apply to. Maybe I’m just illiterate, who’s to tell, really?

ARRAY | The 5 Cornell Reasons to Study Abroad

I spent last semester studying in the far-off land of New Zealand. Now I’m back and it’s time for that self-hatred inducing study abroad post where I tell you how I made meaning out of fleeing the country for a little bit. When I left, I told myself that I wasn’t going to be one of those obnoxious people who went on and on about how study abroad changed them, but then my publishing deadline came a knocking and I realized that I had nothing to write about, and suddenly putting out my experiences seemed like too easy a topic to pass up. I’m hoping that I can say a couple things about my time that go beyond the usual self-discovery stuff though, and instead tell you about how studying abroad shifted my perspective on Cornell life. 1) Pretty much every other place outside of the arctic circles is nicer than Ithaca.

ON MY MIND | The Empty Promise of Academia

“Just because you fight for something doesn’t mean you have to have a philosophical justification for it.”

By what was then the twelfth week of this semester, I had grown accustomed to 98% of the inane phrases which were tossed casually — as casually as one might toss a molotov cocktail — into the collective consciousness of my English/Comp Lit seminar. The ratio of neural/motor energy devoted to jotting down whatever convoluted statements followed the words, “This is important,” from one of professors’ mouths (it’s one of those rare two-professor courses) versus scrolling through Facebook and answering emails had gradually shifted in disproportionate favor of the latter. But this sentence, uttered by an undergrad whose name I had not yet committed to memory (and probably never will), forced me to whip my head up in bewilderment and scan the room for any signs of incredulity which might mirror my own. Here, let me play it back for you:

“Just because you fight for something doesn’t mean you have to have a philosophical justification for it.”

My eyes flickered from the seated students to the professor standing at the front of the room. My professor paused, smiled, nodded, laughed, and agreed: “Yes, I guess you could say that.”

I wrote it down, appending seven question marks to the quotation.

ON MY MIND | ‘C’ Stands for Colonizer, and Also Cornell

“Colonialism imposed its control of the social production of wealth through military conquest and subsequent political dictatorship. But its most important area of domination was the mental universe of the colonised.” – Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Decolonising the Mind
Intra-Ivy League bickering aside, Cornell University is widely regarded as one of the top institutions of higher learning in the world. Students who graduate from our school go on to become world leaders in their industry of preference: from Wall Street and Capitol Hill to Hollywood and Silicon Valley. The design and administration of our medicine, our mortgages, our software, our textbooks, our food, our jobs, our cities and our homes all bear the mark of a Cornellian somewhere in the fine print. This is not a matter of opinion; it is a fact of our society.

OUTSIDE THE MAINSTREAM | Stop Listening to College Rankings

Western culture loves to rank everything. From foods to sport teams to cities, we obsess over figuring out the best thing, the second best thing, and so on. One of the more interesting ranking systems is that of colleges. Every year, U.S. News and World Report publishes its popular list of the “best colleges” in the country., which means that a lot of people read and absorb these rankings,yet what actually goes into them? Why are they important?

BIWEEKLY JOKES FOR EVERYDAY FOLKS | How Cornell Markets Liberal Arts

It really is something to chuckle at, the way Cornell speaks about liberal arts. Specifically within the College of Arts and Sciences, there exists an issue with the rhetoric surrounding our breadth and depth requirements, which I argue stems from our grade-centered education. Ideally, I would care much more about the quality of my education, about my intellectual growth each semester, than I do about my grades. Unfortunately, I am hyper aware of the importance of my grades—their influence on how others view and judge me—and their influence on my future. Whether or not I learn a lot in a class, I have been trained since high school to desire outside recognition of my accomplishments in that class.

CULTURALLY SHOOK | How the Trump White House Is Turning Children into Political Puppets

Last week, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the new White House Press Secretary, read a 9-year-old boy’s letter to President Trump during a press briefing. This lucky 9-year-old boy is Dylan Harbin, also known by the nickname Pickle. Pickle is only in the 3rd grade, but he doesn’t know “why people don’t like” Donald Trump—he likes Trump so much he even had a Trump-themed birthday party!  

I don’t need to tell you that Pickle’s childlike fascination with the rude, noisy NSFW animation that is Donald Trump—while troubling—is clearly not rooted in any nuanced understanding of Trump’s domestic and international policy decisions. Liberals, leftists and anyone else who grows nauseated by the mere mention of our traffic cone-tinted Commander-in-Chief traipsing through the White House with all the grace of a tactless Neanderthal can agree that Pickle’s object of obsession is, to say the least, unfortunate.

KRAVITZ’S KORNER | A Better Approach to Education

President Donald Trump is arguably the most controversial and polarizing figure in politics today. Take Trump’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. She was the first Cabinet-level appointee in U.S. history to require the Vice President to cast a tie-breaking vote during the Senate confirmation. Lost in the mud-slinging confirmation process was a fact-based discussion of Republican ideas about education, particularly compared to those of Democrats. It is important to understand that DeVos’ predecessors at the Department of Education were not able to markedly improve the state of public school education in America.

ARRAY | We Still Need Arts

Kids in the liberal arts and social sciences get a bad rap. They are derided for their “easy” majors, lack of relevant job opportunities after college or for ending up in careers that aren’t related to their degree. Engineers and other “skilled” workers, on the other hand, are increasingly valued in our culture, and many economists claim that the future of America lies in technical jobs that require specialized degrees. This is reflected in the fact that the number of business, engineering and health degrees received has exploded since 1970, while the number of history and liberal arts graduates has remained relatively stagnant, or in some cases dropped. This fits quite well with the way Americans perceive themselves.