Michael H Goldhaber on Mon, 13 Oct 2003 13:24:17 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> New Media Education and Its Discontent

Keith Hart wrote:

> "It is these places [some universities] that are the guardians of
> intellectual life....They cannot teach the qualities that people need in
> politics and business. Nor can they teach culture and wisdom, any more
> than theologians teach holiness, or philosophers goodness or sociologists
> a blueprint for the future. They exist to cultivate the intellect.

But let us recall that the student movement of the sixties, at least in
the US used as its chief anti-text "The Uses of the University" by Clark
Kerr , then President of the University of California system. He did not
see the institution as primarily in aid of intellect but rather as a tool
for numerous elements of society -- including government and business very
prominently. The ensuing student revolt wound its way through campuses,
but in reaction, university funds were cut, curricula were redesigned,
campuses were redesigned so that protests more easily could be controlled,
and even at public institutions tuition rose from nearly nothing to
ever-larger figures. (Under Thatcher, it's my understanding that something
similar was begun in the UK.)

Some of the student demands, such as black studies and women's studies
were met, but those elements of identity politics helped balkanize the
student bodies so that efforts for common causes, including the intellect
in some degree, were no longer likely to get off the ground. Meanwhile,
the private elite schools used their greater resources as means to
increase competition for places in them, so that only students who
ceaselessly were in motion while they were in high school had much chance
to get in (except for the few legacy students) . Their (the elite
students') sense of self-worth and entitlement, and their ferocious work
ethic continued and was nurtured in college. Doing rather than thinking
has become the norm and is what is most valued among this elite.

Michael H. Goldhaber

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