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Pingback: Knowledge Workers of the World, Unite❢  Inquiry Into Inquiry
A useful introduction to the closely related topic of Academic Capitalism —
Susan M. Awbrey • “Making the ‘Invisible Hand’ Visible : The Case for Dialogue About Academic Capitalism”
I still agree with Freud about the place of reason in decision making, etc. He used the term ‘rationalization’ to describe the process of giving reasons for choosing a course of action, after the fact, that was actually determined by emotional/animal needs.
I was disappointed when I first visited the Sorbonne and various lycees such has Henri IV and Louislegrand because they were run down and almost dilapidated but I soon realized that I was comparing them with Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and U.C. Berkeley not to mention hundreds of other beautiful campuses and private boarding schools in America,
I think the French get it right. A lecture by Michel Foucault in a cold room with thirty ardent attendees of all ages and descriptions is worth a thousand lectures by sophomoric professors in huge amphitheaters around America. France is very far from being an egalitarian society for most of the same reasons we are but their approach to education seems to me to be a much better approach than turning universities into corporations.
Fraternities and sororities are obsolete. Athletic programs that are nothing more than training leagues for the professional basketball, baseball and football leagues are a travesty. Huge campus grounds are a needless luxury. Huge numbers of academic administrators are not needed … Why turn these monstrosities into corporations that will do little more than lose money for share holders?
What is important, at least in undergraduate education, is educating students in things that require very little laboratory exposure and, in the best of worlds, a lot of exposure to dedicated teachers. I have a book on the cell, for example, that is a 2000 page book written in two columns per page that requires deep, continuous study to master. Laboratory experience is fun but not necessary and the book probably could be mastered without even a teacher. Teachers are essential in my opinion but how many professors dare call themselves teachers?
You talk about going “outside the box” and examining our methods of evaluation, etc. but I think we need to go so far outside the box that the box will no longer be recognizable after we are through.
To be fanciful, I can even imagine most education taking place over the Internet and proficiency being evaluated by exam only …. The universitybox would then entirely disappear. Not so fanciful if you compare Harvard in 1850 with Harvard in 1950 and then in Harvard 2012.
More than $250,000 to get a B.S. in mathematics? I think that says it all.
When I came to college in the late 1960s, our elders made sure to impress on us the fact that we paid but a quarter of the actual cost of our state university education, with public funds accounting for the other three quarters. Today that partition has been reversed.
• Pay no attention to the man behind the partition!
Of course that’s the irony of the ironic cage — “The Man” behind the partition is precisely who “We the People” should be interrogating, not the other way round.
What has brought about the public disinvestment in public education, an investment so critical to the survival of a democratic society? Who’s been pushing that bill of goods for the last half century? Who’s been waterboarding the Public with continuous, relentless propaganda, preaching the gospel that the Public Good is dead, that it never existed, that there is nothing to be had but one private commodity after another, to be grabbed off the übermarket shelves before your fellow man, your competitor, has an even break to bid?
In one sense America is a young country but in another, important sense, we are a very old country. We began as Englishmen, whose history goes back to the ninth century at least, and we coexisted, sometimes mixed with, and all too often sequestered and decimated native Americans whose history goes back possibly thirty thousand years. And there was slavery which was here from our English beginning. And I haven’t even mentioned Spain, the Netherlands and France.
Only in the nineteenth century, after the Civil War, did the oligarchs rise to power everywhere, taking it from the landed aristocracy who ruled most of America almost from the beginning and who created the American Revolution. The oligarchs rose to power on the backs of exslaves, Irish and Chinese immigrants and Hispanics who were, at bottom, an army of scabs who assured that socialism and the union movement would be crippled and bled to death from the beginning.
Then came the rest of the immigrants in the early twentieth century. The oligarchs needed trained workers so they adopted the ideas of John Taylor who reconstructed the schools to look like factories complete with bells which moved “students” from class to class, announced lunch time and its end, and told them when they could go home. The seats were bolted to the ground, students had to ask permission to go to the bathroom (just as in factories) and talking in class was punished with slaps, raps on the knuckles and spankings. Absenteeism was punished also. It was the beginning of the attempt to “educate” the masses to work in factories and the beginning of the idea that an education was training for a job.
College education was rare and confined to the upper middle classes and the rich, and doctorates were often taken abroad. As late as the 1930’s the University of California at Berkeley was free and open to any high school graduate in California because a college education did not seem important to most Americans.
After World War II, America found itself the world leader and German scientists were recruited to remake our university system into one that resembled the European model. Many colleges remained private, such as Stanford and Harvard and they showed everyone what a university training “really” cost. The others were paid for by the tax payers who could not help knowing how much they were paying because tuitions at private schools were there for everyone to see.
Twenty years after the end of World War II, America began the Vietnam war and diverted so much money and manpower into that war that taxpayers were overburdened and revolted everywhere. Inflation also followed the war, the housing boom started and the Silicon boom started with the appearance of Microsoft and Apple. It was the beginning of the great America obsession with money. Business schools and computer science programs dominated almost every university and marginalized every other field. The American government and state university system financed and developed both the space program and the computer science revolution, including the internet but immediately gave it away to oligarchs and future oligarchs.
The fall of the Soviet Union plunged America into a frenzy or war, financial speculation and pure narcissism.
But post Civil War America still existed underneath it all, which consisted of an oligarchy built on the backs of immigrant and slave labor. After World War II, the descendents of exslaves, Hispanics, Irish, German, Polish and other immigrants, were told enter these shining new state universities which were virtually free, to become doctors, engineers and scientists, as if all it took was an encouraging smile or a stern admonition, but for the most part they preferred to drink beer and play football as their ancestors had.
The oligarchs have even more power now and they are faced with their own failed policies of unlimited immigration of Hispanics, integration of public schools in the north and west by the descendents of slaves and, in general the hypocrisy of sending their own children to private schools as they always have. They tell us now that “we” can’t afford free education anymore because they have seen the failed results of their own policies and they don’t want to pay for them anymore. “We” the people can’t afford it, either as tax payers or college tuition payers simply because “our” incomes are not high enough.
I leave the story of why our incomes fell so rapidly, I suppose because it is pretty well known to most. There is no easy solution for this mess and no Wizard of Oz behind a curtain to expose.
The best trick of Zardoz is making you think the screen is transparent.