Education Bolsheviks

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The Edu-Bolsheviks

Jim Groom wrote a passionate and alarming post, a little ago (Education Connection, it’s more than just a catchy jingle…). It resonated til I found a way to make my own sense out of it. This is why I needed the grand (albeit romantic…) scenes of the Russian Revolution as they were shot in Reds, the Warren Beatty movie.

Yes. Hereby founding the movement of Education Bolsheviks. And now, read on.

Today’s Big Question: What is University For? [Quotes are from Jim’s post]

a degree that trains you for what exactly? Hotel and food management? Maybe one of those greatly undervalued undergraduate degrees in business? Could be nice to get a degree in Homeland Security? […] the essence of the whole idea of the education enterprise in the US right now to its rudest and truest form: predation.

[…]Vicious promotional cycle of “increased income,” “more opportunity,” and “greater freedom” that has locked too many into an unconscionable life of unnecessary debt. Why such costly programs for what are basically trades one could just as easily learn on the job while getting paid.

I would only add to the term “predation” another: systemic fraud. Consider that each youngster who begins with compulsory school leaves it with such high deficiencies that the University system needs to shorten the gap somehow. Inevitably, in the past twenty years we have witnessed the oversimplification of university courses everywhere in North America, up to a point in which many colleges are but a sad copy of high schools. Where is the University? Perhaps in the last two years of college and in graduate studies. Some remnants of The University in North America lay there. This is why such an enterprise is a fraud: you could have the same students finish off with a real strong degree at the Bachelor’s level, and not have them wait til the graduate level.

[…]because we all know a BA/BS is not nearly enough, we need grad school. And your potential to actually live and enjoy life is further delayed for 2 to 8 years and you have bought into a system that will only further indenture you and sell your soul for one of the cheapest forms of labor going: the academic adjunct.

You tell students to come, to get a degree, but they are just parking their lives in the college good life, while they could be studying (like their Asian counterparts are doing… in Asia). Yes, studying, a verb much in disuse (a post on it is overdue!). Study in high school and get a culture; study in College and get some deeper culture and a profession. No, we’re focusing on how to have them “learn” by inventing the perfect pedagogy that would close this vicious circle perfectly, and allow them to “learn” fast and dispassionately, in no time and no effort. Except this dream is but another chimera, another fraud we’re imposing on our pupils. Which makes me ask: Is this “system” using our bonafide pedagogic quest with the new 2.0 technologies and new theoretical frameworks to justify the status quo and continue the propaganda of fast, painless, passionless “learning anytime/anywhere”? Yesterday I posted a few tweets on an article from Campus Technology which was aptly titled “teaching in 1-minute snippets”. Get the idea? Our language really does show the limits to our world.

Is it time to walk away from this madness yet?

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About Antonio Vantaggiato

Professor, web2.0 enthusiast, and didactic chef.
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