Noam Chomsky riffs on the direction of education in the western world.

In Uncategorized on December 18, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Regional UCU officer Mark Oley has been in email contact with Professor Noam Chomsky(Massachusetts Institute of Technology), discussing the situation in UK HE and the University of Leeds in particular. He has received this reply:

“I had a startling experience a few weeks ago.  I travelled to Mexico City for talks at the National University, an enormous and very impressive institution with high standards of achievement and scholarship.  Entrance is selective, but the university is virtually free.  I then visited an even more remarkable institution, the college in Mexico City established by former mayor Lopez Obrador.  Again, the facilities and standards are quite impressive.  It is not only free, but has open admissions, though sometimes that requires some delay and sometimes assistance for students lacking adequate preparation. Shortly after I went to San Francisco for talks, and learned more about the California institutions of higher education.  They have been at the very peak of the international higher education system.  By now tuitions are quite high, even for in-state students, and cutbacks are affecting teaching, research, and staff.  It would be no great surprise if the two major state universities, UC Berkeley and UC Los Angeles, will soon be privatized while the remainder of the state system is reduced considerably in scale and level. Needless to say, Mexico is a poor country with a struggling economy, and California should be one of the richest places in the world, with incomparable advantages. I mention these recent experiences only to emphasize that the recent cut-backs in higher education seen in much of the world cannot simply be traced to economic problems.  Rather, they reflect fundamental choices about the nature of the society in which we will live.  If it is to be designed for the wealthy and privileged, mostly engaged in management and finance while production is transferred abroad and most of the population is left to fend somehow for themselves at the fringes of decent and creative life, then these are good choices.  If we have different aspirations for the world of our children and grandchildren, the choices are shameful and ruinous.

Noam Chomsky”

I'm not a universal admirer of Chomsky (too many polemics) but observing the way higher education is being approached in the UK,US and elsewhere  this particular observation has some resonance with me.

I agree with Chomsky, education in the west is taking a wrong turn at least from the perspective of the general populace.

What kind of entitlement do we give every child, not the fantasy, in reality ?
Who is entitled to educational opportunities and why ?
What kinds of Opportunities  are presented now and in the future? 
what kind of education are they getting?
What do these educational opportunites provide for our children , how about their children ?
What is the cost to them both upfront and long-term, what does it commit them to?
Who is served best by this approach?
Where will this trend take us ?

Our Corporations will be OK,  they can exist anywhere, but our societies? what are we building? where are we going? what will our grandchildren be doing  in the world we are creating ?

Posted via email from Urban Ascetic (Lite)


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