Sunday, February 11, 2018

Barbarians at the gates of the ivory tower

You've come across the following quote, right?
It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.
Upton Sinclair phrased it so well for all of us.

It does not have to be literally the salary, but can also be other aspects of life. 

I often think about that statement when trying to sort out the troubling aspects of higher education.  For instance, the massive spending on athletics in higher education.  There are a number of people whose literal salaries depend on not understanding how much this is ruining higher education.  Or, the stale curriculum and pedagogy that faculty continue to practice--our salaries depend on the status quo and, therefore, it is difficult for us to understand why we need to change our ways!
Universities and colleges are pivotal to the future of our societies. But, given impressive and ongoing advances in technology and artificial intelligence, it is hard to see how they can continue playing this role without reinventing themselves over the next two decades. Education innovation will disrupt academic employment, but the benefits to jobs everywhere else could be enormous. If there were more disruption within the ivory tower, economies just might become more resilient to disruption outside it.
Ahem, try explaining that to university faculty!

You can also, therefore, understand why I love the GBS quote so much that I made it the title of my blog: Every profession is a conspiracy against the laity.  Honest professionals are rare, and honest professional organizations do not even exist.

In fact, the current zeitgeist is all about dishonesty.  trump and his minions make it a point every single day to remind us that lying pays off.  The more outrageous the lies, the higher the payoffs.  In this, they attack honest professionals wherever they might be--in Congress, or in the FBI, or in colleges, or ...

Tragically, these outright dishonest psychopaths are effective in their attacks on higher education.  It is bizarre that two-thirds of Republicans think college is a waste!
A June Pew Research Center survey found that a majority of Republicans believe colleges and universities have a “negative effect on the way things are going in the country.” Democrats overwhelmingly said the opposite.
In an August Gallup survey, two-thirds of Republicans likewise said they have just some or very little confidence in colleges. The chief complaints: Schools are too liberal, they don’t allow students to think for themselves and students are learning the wrong things.
Or as Donald Trump Jr. put it in a campus speech last fall: “We’ll take $200,000 of your money; in exchange we’ll train your children to hate our country.”  

The implications are far-reaching, and makes for a deadly destructive combination: The insiders have steadfastly refused to change, and the barbarians are the gate tearing everything down.


Ramesh said...

I was absolutely gobsmacked by your sentence that two thirds of Republicans think college is a waste. I simply could not believe that, that is the case.

So I read through the article you linked and from there the actual Gallup poll. The poll concluded no such thing.

The actual question was "How much confidence you have in colleges and universities". That's as vague a question as it can be and the team that did the survey should be fired. If the question was "Do you think college education is good for your son/daughter", I can bet 99.9% would have said Yes.

Republicans probably responded that they have less confidence in universities simply because many of your universities have been captured by the loony left. They are reacting to universities behaving in a manner that they do not agree with. That's fair enough.

But the point in your post about defunding college education is absolutely valid. I can't believe that idiot in Arizona brought that case - the judge must make him responsible for ensuring that colleges are funded and jail him if he voted against it !!

All this is probably a symptom of the rot in American society where everything is viewed with a highly partisan lens - even going to the bathroom, for God's sake. We need lots and lots more empathy amongst everybody (and not just on the "other" side) - a point you have eloquently stated in your blog many times.

Sriram Khé said...

"universities have been captured by the loony left"

Not true.

Just because the moronic Republicans keep saying this, those alternative facts do not become reality.

Yes, chances are pretty darn good that when asked "Do you think college education is good for your son/daughter" even the uber-loyal Republican will say yes.
But, ask those maniacs if their tax dollars should go towards college education for the brown-skinned, then their anti-college venom will spill out. The de-funding of higher ed began in the 1970s as non-whites started attending college!