Some folks have brought this to my attention:
Since 2008, the number of students majoring in history in U.S. universities has dropped 30 percent, and history now accounts for a smaller share of all U.S. bachelor’s degrees than at any time since 1950.
As Reynolds notes, History is a paradigm case of “get woke, go broke.” History, more than any other Liberal Art, is now nothing more than a SocJus mad lib: “___ oppressed ____ through ___, ____. and ____.” The rest is just details, and ten minutes Wiki-surfing with the syllabus in hand will give you those.
I’d been planning to retire for a long time anyway, but the final straw came a few years ago when an engineer buddy of mine asked to take my midterm, just to see if things were as bad as I claimed. I said sure, and gave him the exact same rules as the students: Open note (meaning, access to the class website), 60 minutes. Now, keep in mind that this is a guy who’s so left-brained he can’t spell a word the same way twice. The last history class he took was the one we took together back in high school, decades ago, when the Soviet Union was still very much a going concern.
He got a B-. “I probably could’ve done better,” he admitted, “but Monday Night Football was on.”
It’s no use to say “give harder exams” — universities are businesses and the customer is always right. A professor with a rep as a hard grader won’t be a professor for too long, because students will simply avoid him…. and if you assign him to teach the required Intro classes (because he’s got tenure, so he has to teach something), students will simply switch majors. Thus everyone gets As, and since this is true in every other Liberal Art (for the same reasons), the choice of major for most students comes down to a mix of “what are you going to do with that?” and “the classroom experience.”
History is the easiest imaginable A — I’m really not kidding when I say any one of you, right now, could graduate summa from any History department in the land without breaking a sweat — but it never shows up in job requirements. Plus the classroom experience is the pits. “Business” isn’t the most popular major in America because it’s practical (though it’s more practical than History). It’s popular because the profs in the business school kinda sorta look like normal humans. Even now students still have to spend a little bit of time in the classroom. Who would you rather be locked in with, a guy who looks like he might know how a clothes iron works, or a blue-haired, face-shrapneled, sleeve-tattooed, unshaven androgynous blob that changes xzhyr pronouns every few weeks?
And all that is before you get to the subject matter itself. Reynolds notes that History majors are down most in the elite schools. This is because profs at elite schools get to teach what they want to teach, and what they want to teach is their current research in their micro-calibrated sub-sub-sub specialty. In case you’re not familiar with academia’s arcana, one doesn’t get a doctorate in “History.” That’s what it says on the sheepskin, but to get the sheepskin you have to write a dissertation, which is a substantial piece of original research. Since we’re pretty clear on the big questions — your “what caused the Civil War?”-type stuff — that only leaves the little ones. So you get dissertations on sheep-shearing techniques in the reign of Henry VII or something…. but, of course, this is academia, where everything’s uber-politicized, so you get dissertations on the Marxist interpretation of sheep-shearing techniques in the reign of Henry VII. And because that shit gets grant money (don’t ask me how; God alone knows) and because grant money is the department’s lifeblood, said professor is going to teach HIST 302: Sheep-shearing Techniques in the Reign of Henry VII: A Marxist Approach.
Why on earth would anyone major in that?
Alas, that’s not a rhetorical question. There’s a bipartite answer: Either you really love sheep-shearing, or you really love Marxism. There are always some few dorks who are really into History’s obscurities (and they’re actually the worst kids to have in class, I’d take fifty hopelessly bored sorority girls over one enthusiast, but that’s a rant for another day). But there are always several more dorks who are really into protesting stuff, and that’s where the History major really shines. These snowflakes, it’s safe to say, are Liberal Arts majors, because only Liberal Arts majors would be dumb enough to go to Georgia Tech, where they really do mean tech, and demand an end to quizzes, homework, studying, and class attendance. The History major is perfect for these people… or it would be, if there weren’t a dozen other majors — Psych, Soash, Anthro, Elementary Ed, American Studies (a real thing, God help us), etc. — that actually give you class credit for protesting shit. So History’s screwed there, too.
And good riddance, as far as I’m concerned. Academia is broken beyond all hope of repair. Keeping traditional-sounding majors around only helps maintain the fiction that a college “education” is anything more than a six-year SJW sleepaway camp. The faster Angry Studies becomes a real, honest-to-God major, the faster we can start tearing the whole place down and salting the earth where it stood. College is the biggest scam ever pulled on the American public — if a Bernie Madoff type did 1/1000th the damage to Wall Street that your average college dean does to Main Street, they’d draw and quarter him in Times Square and broadcast the carnage instead of the Super Bowl. For God’s sake, do not go to college, do not let your kids go to college, don’t let your friends, or friends’ kids, or friends’ kids’ pets go to college.