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Hampshire College provides excellent education that should be protected (opinion)
"The Best Education Isn't Cost-Effective: Hampshire’s model provides excellent education precisely because it is not efficient, argues Falguni A. Sheth, and that's why we need to protect it."



"When I first read that Hampshire College’s new president was “inviting a partnership” to keep it afloat, I was startled but not surprised.

Hampshire has been long known as the quirky, hippie, artsy liberal arts college in the western Massachusetts woods. Developed via a consortium of four other colleges (Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College and the University of Massachusetts), Hampshire has always been the poor cousin. Like the New School for Social Research, where I matriculated as a philosophy graduate student, Hampshire has been eternally underfunded and run on a skeletal budget, relying on its faculty and staff’s dedication and commitment to the alternative, progressive pedagogy espoused since the college’s founding in 1965.

I was a faculty member at Hampshire for 14 years. There, I developed my identity as a political philosopher and public writer on national security, the war on terror and Islamophobia. There, I found challenging and supportive intellectual camaraderie among brilliant, committed colleagues who espoused a broad, interdisciplinary curriculum. Hampshire’s list of illustrious and accomplished faculty has included James Baldwin, Yusef Lateef and Jerome Liebling, among many others.

I discovered students who were refreshingly thoughtful, refusing to be satisfied with a conventional education. They were fearless in challenging their faculty members’ and classmates’ presuppositions. This is how my first book came about: from a political philosophy course on the social contract that was continuously challenged by critical students. My students asked about race, colonialism, the absence of recognition for male and female nonwhites, the contradiction between the notion of equal rights, and the fact of slavery. They required me to address these contradictions back when it was unheard-of to do so.

The same questions had occurred to me in graduate school but were afforded little merit even at a progressive place like the New School. Those questions still niggled as I taught my courses at Hampshire, but we -- my students and I -- were afforded an intellectually supportive space to consider them, even as I insisted that my students seek better, more rigorous ways to exhibit their findings.

The distinctiveness of Hampshire’s curriculum needs to be considered carefully: students are required to create their own interdisciplinary concentrations (majors). Hampshire’s approach is predicated on inquiry-based learning where students contend with immediate concerns and long-term objectives, with new ideas and a demand to understand the history of those ideas, while anticipating what the future might look like. This means that knowledge is not merely received but rather explored and digested through various methods: photographic, agrarian, scientific, poetic and dramaturgical, among others. This curriculum requires wrestling with ideas, as well as self-reflection, and anticipation of unexpected obstacles. It cultivates critical thinking and ethical reflection in the deepest sense imaginable.

As an immigrant kid who went to public schools, I was initially skeptical of what seemed to be a fairly self-indulgent education. Yet I knew that many respected academics sent their children to Hampshire instead of elite Ivy League schools. They were in on one of the best-kept secrets of postsecondary education: students were given unprecedented attention from faculty members, nurtured and carefully guided in their intellectual and political interests to become powerfully smart and critically thoughtful, broadly read citizens of the world. Graduates have gone on to become journalists, immigrant rights lawyers, inventors, novelists, scientists, professors, actors, social entrepreneurs, community organizers, doctors and engineers.

Inefficiency, Not Cost-Effectiveness

Yet as remarkable as my time at Hampshire was, my colleagues and I were unrelentingly exhausted. We were encouraged to teach specialized courses and to develop new ones. Students needed faculty members to serve as frequent advisers as they finished the various levels of education, from individual and distinctive interdisciplinary concentrations to the Division III senior capstone project that has been part of Hampshire’s graduation requirements.

Moreover, since its inception in 1965, Hampshire has assessed students’ relevant skills through narrative evaluations rather than grades. Faculty members write such evaluations for students as they progress through the educational tiers to help them reflect on their studies, develop deeper questions and further complicate their thinking and skills. To do justice to each student’s work, those evaluations must have detailed comments on various aspects of the project.

This innovative approach often resulted in extreme workloads. Often faculty members would find themselves writing pages upon pages of course evaluations, concentration evaluations and senior capstone evaluations -- sometimes in excess of 100 to 150 pages each year. This work did not account for the enormous time devoted to faculty-governance commitments or the various extracurricular programming that faculty members would engage in: bringing speakers to campus, raising money for those speakers and taking students on topic-related trips -- whether to The Hague to witness the tribunal for a war criminal; to Cuba to learn about arts, culture and politics; or to the U.S.-Mexico border to learn about immigration patterns.

All of those activities -- intensive interactions between and among faculty members and students, narrative evaluations, fascinating extracurricular programming, vigorous faculty governance -- are crucial to the exciting intellectual, cultural and political environment that gives Hampshire its spirit. But all of this commitment is difficult to sustain on a shoestring budget. It also means scarce resources -- in terms of both time and money -- are available to support the faculty’s intellectual life and research, which are nonnegotiable in this epoch of competition for students.

And therein lies the rub: Hampshire’s model is effective precisely because it is not efficient. Inefficiency -- not cost-effectiveness, in the form of careful attention, reflectiveness and conversations unhampered by time restrictions -- leads to some of the best education in the country. Inefficiency requires more money, not less, but for good cause: nurturing young minds and sustaining the education of worldly and thoughtful citizens, which requires the nurturing of faculty minds and lives, as well.

So, unlike the contemporary trend among postsecondary educational institutions, Hampshire’s incredible educational model flies in the face of a neoliberal, cost-effective business model of education. That latter model measures its economic sustainability through metrics that are designed to assess the pedagogy or curriculum but tell us little about whether students have evaluated their positions critically or understand the world differently.

The other four colleges in the consortium should understand their obligation to uphold Hampshire as a vital intellectual partner, where their own students take classes and flourish. I hope that a merger will not succumb to calls for cost-efficiency, or a “leaner” educational model by paring down faculty and staff members -- and as bad -- curtailing the rich interdisciplinary curriculum.

If it does, then Hampshire will be forced to forfeit its singular gifts and place in the academy, and the world will be much poorer for it. I fervently hope that Hampshire can continue to exist in its distinct way and thrive among sympathetic partners."
hampshirecollege  falgunisheth  2019  alternative  education  highered  highereducation  cost  efficiency  inefficiency 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Museum admission should be free: The state of art in 2014 - LA Times
"Recently I visited six prominent art museums in two states (Texas and Ohio) and saw a wide variety of rewarding special exhibitions and exceptional permanent collections. Aside from individual works of art, which included some of the most important paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, illustrated books and decorative objects made in the entire history of world civilization, I was struck by something else: Admission to five of the six art museums was free.

That is as it should be.

Yes, every art museum needs multiple sources of revenue. It does cost money to run the place.

However, because they are tax exempt, art museums already count the public as a major, indirect source of revenue. Required admission fees add a second hit — a kind of "double jeopardy" — and it is one that falls harder on those who can least afford it.

The simple fact that I was struck by not having to pay for the privilege of entering tax-exempt, not-for-profit art institutions on my recent journeys suggests how unusual the experience is. That's because most of my museum time is spent in Los Angeles. Until this year, only one of the city's six most important art museums hasn't had a tariff for the public to see its art — even though the public at least nominally supports or owns it.

In February L.A. got its second free museum. UCLA's Hammer Museum joined the J. Paul Getty Museum (and the Getty Villa) in having no entry cost. The Hammer raised funds to bridge the immediate funding gap, and it has been working toward expanding memberships for added revenue. But here's the true measure of success: In the 10 months since dropping admission fees, the museum reports a hefty attendance jump of 25%.

Museums like to say that they are eager to engage new audiences, and no doubt they are. Growing attendance by a quarter without tinkering with the program is a pretty good working definition of new audience engagement.

Admission policies often have an unacknowledged influence on museum programs too, and it isn't always healthy. Admission fees turn visitors into customers, and relying on customers turns an educational enterprise — which is what a museum is — into a public entertainment. Quantity of response trumps quality of response, and in the short run the surest way to juice quantity is to popularize the program.

For example: It probably isn't an accident that each of the last three directors at the Museum of Contemporary Art (general admission $12) has chosen to host an exhibition revolving around Andy Warhol. Contemporary art is not popular with the public, but Warhol is a household name — a celebrity. What Monet or Picasso is for Modern art, Warhol is to contemporary art.

The most famous artist of the last half-century is presumably a popular draw. Here's the catch: None of MOCA's three Warhol shows added much of any significance to our already established understanding of a major artist's work. And each exhibition was less interesting than the one before it. The slide was palpable.

Museums might say they're interested in engaging new audiences, but sometimes it seems they're actually eager to engage more paying customers. The Indianapolis Museum of Art, mostly free since 1941, just announced it would zoom from zero to $18 a head.

Ironically, when it comes to admissions we're not even talking about a huge revenue generator. Nationally, the portion of an art museum's annual operating budget that is covered by visitors pushing cash across the counter at the admissions desk hovers in the vicinity of 5%. That's beyond modest, relatively speaking.

Free admission is already the norm at several smaller, more specialized institutions around the city, including the California African American Museum, the Annenberg Space for Photography, the UCLA Fowler Museum and the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Save for the Getty, however, the most imposing art museums in town swing far in the other direction.

In addition to MOCA, there's the Huntington (general admission $20 to $23), Los Angeles County Museum of Art ($15 to $25) and Norton Simon Museum ($12). You could certainly get free entry at any of them if you were a member, but I doubt many people sign up at all four: Together, the lowest individual rate for that would be $340.

One comparative test of the admission practice will come next fall, when the Broad Collection opens downtown on Grand Avenue. Happily, the Broad administration announced this year that, like the Getty and the Hammer, its collection of blue-chip contemporary art will be open free to the public.

It has been hoped that the splashy new attraction will also benefit MOCA, the Broad's edgier neighbor across the street. Interest in one might generate interest in the other. Soon we'll know whether MOCA's admission fee is a barrier — and if so, how much."
museums  2014  admissions  funding  cost  money  revenue  nonprofits  free  getty  hammermuseum  moca  ucla  christopherknight  art  losangeles  accessibility  access  nonprofit 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Does Class Size Matter? | National Education Policy Center
"This policy brief summarizes the academic literature on the impact of class size and finds that class size is an important determinant of a variety of student outcomes, ranging from test scores to broader life outcomes. Smaller classes are particularly effective at raising achievement levels of low-income and minority children.

Policymakers should carefully weigh the efficacy of class-size policy against other potential uses of funds. While lower class size has a demonstrable cost, it may prove the more cost-effective policy overall."
education  learning  classsize  children  teaching  policy  cost  2014 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Academia’s Dirty Little Secret | Hippo Reads
"When it’s done right, a real education is slow, inefficient, and expensive. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying."
education  highered  highereducation  academia  2014  gordonhaber  inefficiency  cost 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Why is it so difficult and expensive to make your own clothes (or have them made)? | Chez Skud
"I’ve gone on for a long time already, but you can see that modern home-made clothing has most of the disadvantages of industrial clothing (poor durability, fiddly to make, externalities) and few of its benefits (capital-intensive economies of scale).

Home-made clothing may never be able to compete with industrial clothing based on cost alone, however if you aren’t able to wear industrial clothing, perhaps because you don’t fit their mass-produced sizes, or you want to opt out of the industrial clothing system for whatever reason, there are ways to make your own clothing (or have it made) that are more cost effective than the modern, quasi-industrial methods that are promoted through mainstream craft publications and retailers (Australia: Spotlight and Lincraft; USA: JoAnn’s and similar). Best of all, these are a mix-and-match set of skills, materials, and practices that you can do at whatever scale or level of investment works for you. You don’t actually have to dress like an 18th century peasant to take advantage of them. (Of course, if you want to, I fully support your life choices.)

This is quite enough rambling for one post, though, so I’ll put them in a followup. Stay tuned."
clothes  sewing  fabrics  glvo  2013  via:debcha  materials  cotton  capitalism  cost  economics  environment  industry  industrialization  polyester  slavery  viscose  clothing 
november 2013 by robertogreco
To Pursue Accreditation? An Overview of Oversight | Austin Center for Design
"What’s the benefit of moving through these levels and going through these largely managerial motions? I see two main benefits to the school and students:

* Accreditation allows students to receive federal financial aid in order to attend.
* Accreditation allows students to transfer credits from and to the school.
* I don’t know if either of these would benefit the type of students that come to Austin Center for Design.

I think a lot about accreditation. I appreciate the signal it provides to the larger academic world: we are serious about education, and we value the integrity ensured by outside review. At the same time, the process demands a huge amount of resources, which can only result in higher operational costs – which inevitably get passed on to students…

The educational model of tomorrow may not need accreditation, if it is to truly embrace qualities of community and peer led learning."
cost  education  openstudioproject  lcproject  2012  accreditation  jonkolko  ac4d 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Doctor Hotspot - Video | FRONTLINE | PBS
"New Yorker writer and FRONTLINE correspondent Atul Gawande reports on a doctor in Camden, N.J., who actually seeks out the community’s sickest — and most expensive — patients."
healthcare  health  frontline  atulgawande  jeffreybrenner  towatch  us  policy  changemakers  gamechanging  medicine  newjersey  camden  money  cost 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Lessons from Google Wave and MSFT Kin « Scott Berkun [via: http://berglondon.com/blog/2010/08/13/friday-links/]
"Wave was weird, but cheap. Compared to Kin, which likely involved dozens of people & man-months, Wave was likely done by small team. That was biggest cost! If you’re going to have failures, even visible ones, better cheap & small, than expensive & large…

easy metric of innovation culture is learning—are people at all levels learning, sharing & growing from whatever happens, good or bad. Not lip-service. But actual learning, where people admit mistakes or oversights & what they might have done differently (rather than witch-hunt many big companies confuse w/ learning).

…starts w/ leaders, & leaders on Kin or Wave have much fodder to work w/. Are they going to share what they learned? Progress awaits if they do. But resentment, confusion & high odds for [repeating] will fester if they don’t.

Anywhere people learn from success & failure will outpace places that lack courage to look at failures w/ eyes open & learn from it, as well as places that don’t learn anything at all."
tcsnmy  change  innovation  risks  risktaking  learning  organizations  business  google  googlewave  scale  experience  culture  management  progress  sharing  failure  microsoft  microsoftkin  kin  smallandcheap  leadership  administration  lcproject  cost  unschooling  deschooling  ownership  incentives  motivation  punishment  courage  success 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Peak MHz - Orange Cone
"This chart demonstrates that we hit the era of what I'm calling Peak MHz in about 2004. That's the point when processor speed effectively peaked as chip manufacturers began competing along other dimensions. Those other dimensions--energy efficiency, size and cost--are driving ubiquitous computing, as their chips become more efficient, smaller and cheaper, thus making them increasingly easier to include into everyday objects.<br />
For those who grew up during the 1990-2004 era, this can be quite confusing, since CPU speed was how the value of computing devices was commonly measured. Now that is shifting to how that power is applied. In other words, it's gone from being a discussion of raw power, to how that power is applied (for a similar phenomenon, see the superbike top speed competition among motorcycle manufacturers, which ended with the 2000 Suzuki Hayabusa agreement)."
processingspeed  systems  power  ubicomp  2010  mikekuniavsky  energy  efficiency  cost  size  computing 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Education policies for raising student learning: the Finnish approach [.pdf] [via: http://www.tuttlesvc.org/2010/08/will-pearson-eat-us-all.html]
"Finland is example of nation that has developed from remote agrarian/industrial state in 1950s to model knowledge economy, using education as key to economic & social development. Relying on data from intl student assessments & earlier policy analysis, this article describes how steady improvement in student learning has been attained through Finnish education policies based on equity, flexibility, creativity, teacher professionalism & trust. Unlike many other education systems, consequential accountability accompanied by high-stakes testing & externally determined learning standards has not been part of Finnish education policies…Finnish education policies intended to raise student achievement have been built upon ideas of sustainable leadership that place strong emphasis on teaching & learning, intelligent accountability, encouraging schools to craft optimal learning environments & implement educational content that best helps students reach general goals of schooling."
finland  education  schools  policy  standards  curriculum  learning  cost  markets  economics  socialmobility  equity  flexibility  creativity  professionalism  teaching  trust  tcsnmy  accountability  testing  highstakes  leadership  filetype:pdf  media:document 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Views: Higher Education's Big Lie - Inside Higher Ed
"Rather, I am proposing that those of us working in academe begin to dismantle the myth that higher education can facilitate social mobility on a mass scale. In fact, the opposite is true. According to a study by the Brookings Institution, "the average effect of education at all levels is to reinforce rather than compensate for the differences associated with family background and the many home-based advantages and disadvantages that children and adolescents bring with them into the classroom." This is a shattering indictment of the education gospel. Dismantling this myth means being honest with ourselves and with our students about the role of higher education in reproducing class inequality across generations."
highered  highereducation  academia  accessibility  ocialmobility  class  education  economics  colleges  universities  money  cost  unschooling  deschooling  2010  annlarson 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Seven Reasons Not to Send Your Kids to College [and five alternatives] - DailyFinance
"Imagine a retirement where you could have an extra $1million to $3 million in the bank with basically no effort. Now imagine telling your kids that you aren't going to send them to college. And, you go on, you want them to immediately start a business or get to work as soon as they finish high school.

These are difficult things to imagine because we've been so scammed by the "career industry" that tells us we need college degrees in order to succeed in life, regardless of how much money we spend for those degrees or what we actually do with our lives during the four to eight years it takes us to get those degrees.

But in my view, the entire college degree industry is a scam, a self-perpetuating Ponzi scheme that needs to stop right now."
colleges  universities  highereducation  highered  cost  debt  alternative  jamesaltucher  ponzischemes  bubbles  higheredbubble  unschooling  deschooling  glvo  education  learning  entrepreneurship  income  travel  handson  apprenticeships  internships 
august 2010 by robertogreco
But First We Must Send Robots | Quiet Babylon
"Want to inspire the kids of tomorrow? Forget the heroic myths. That kind of inspiration is over. “Anyone can be the President.” No they can’t. We all know it.
timmaly  quietbabylon  space  nasa  economics  mars  exploration  robots  mannedspaceflights  engagement  cost  money  resources  internationalspacestation 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Locus Online Perspectives: Cory Doctorow: Close Enough for Rock 'n' Roll
"This is the pattern: doing something x percent as well with less-than-x percent of the resources. A blog may be 10 percent as good at covering the local news as the old, local paper was, but it costs less than 1 percent of what that old local paper cost to put out. A home recording studio and self-promotion may get your album into 30 percent as many hands, but it does so at five percent of what it costs a record label to put out the same recording. What does this mean? Cheaper experimentation, cheaper failure, broader participation. Which means more diversity, more discovery, more good stuff that could never surface when the startup costs were so high that no one wanted to take any risks."
corydoctorow  internet  culture  media  literacy  power  technology  journalism  music  creation  failure  risk  diversity  disruption  discovery  cost  participatory  participation  experimentation 
january 2010 by robertogreco
NGM Blog Central - The Cost of Care - National Geographic Magazine - NGM.com
"The United States spends more on medical care per person than any country, yet life expectancy is shorter than in most other developed nations and many developing ones. Lack of health insurance is a factor in life span and contributes to an estimated 45,000 deaths a year. Why the high cost? The U.S. has a fee-for-service system—paying medical providers piecemeal for appointments, surgery, and the like. That can lead to unneeded treatment that doesn’t reliably improve a patient’s health. Says Gerard Anderson, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who studies health insurance worldwide, “More care does not necessarily mean better care.”"
politics  visualization  health  infographics  healthcare  insurance  graphic  infographic  us  cost  costs  reform  spending  via:kottke 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Worldchanging: Bright Green: Free Parking Isn't Free
"parking spaces can cost between $10,000 and $50,000 – typically more than the cost of the car that occupies it. High parking requirements can raise the price of homes and apartments by $50,000 to $100,000, a serious challenge to affordability." Not enough people complain about subsidized parking, not nearly as many as those that oppose subsidized mass transit, and thus we live in the cities that result.
transportation  cost  urbanplanning  urban  urbanism  price  subsidies  parking  policy  transit  cars  economics  planning  cities  zoning  development  society  environment  sustainability  regulation  sprawl  costs  us 
august 2009 by robertogreco
Global Guerrillas: INDUSTRIAL EDUCATION?
"Since nearly all of the value of an education has been extracted by the producer, to the detriment of the customer, this situation has all the earmarks of a bubble. A bubble that will soon burst as median incomes are adjusted downwards to global norms over the next decade". lectures + application + collaboration. "When will the floodgates open? The shift towards online education as the norm and in-person as the exception will arrive, however, the path is unclear. It is currently blocked by guilds/unions, inertia, credentialism, and romantic notions."
change  reform  education  learning  online  elearning  colleges  universities  futurism  future  business  trends  economics  opensource  mit  johnrobb  crisis  unschooling  deschooling  homeschool  lcproject  gamechanging  money  tuition  inflation  price  cost  bubbles  2009  credentials  teaching  students 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Paul Miller » Why education needs start-ups
"And despite the downturn, education is one area where the investors are still interested. The penny has dropped that education is a massive opportunity, almost no matter what the economic climate. As the renowned venture capitalist Fred Wilson has said “It’s the entire education system that’s stuck in the past. I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately, and I’ve come to believe that we need to completely reinvent the way we educate ourselves.” Silicon Valley commentator Umair Haque has also said that reorganising education is one of the biggest opportunities of the 21st century."
themomentisripe  change  reform  alternative  education  schoolofeverything  learning  schools  deschooling  society  money  cost  price  tuition  autodidacts  decentralization  alacarteeducation  alacarte  lcproject  online  future  web  entrepreneurship  vc  via:preoccupations  economics  crisis  2009  unschooling  freedom  choice  gamechanging  fredwilson  teaching  tcsnmy  startups 
january 2009 by robertogreco
College tuition is far outpacing the cost of living - Aug. 20, 2008
"Costs are soaring twice as fast as inflation, even as salaries for graduates are falling. Time to examine the old belief that college is worth whatever you can pay."
colleges  universities  tuition  inflation  economics  employment  academia  price  cost 
august 2008 by robertogreco
Instant House: Would you buy a house that was made in a factory? - By Witold Rybczynski - Slate Magazine
"The vexing thing about architectural prefabs is their price; whatever the promises of mass production and standardization, they always seem to end up costing a lot."
witoldrybczynski  prefab  architecture  housing  homes  design  cost  price 
august 2008 by robertogreco
College degree is no guarantee at Joanne Jacobs [see also: http://del.icio.us/url/f8f699453f0c6c5fab4e7069862a1a29]
"A small subset of workers with financial skills are earning enormous salaries in finance and corporate law. But most college graduates are finding that a BA or even a BS is not a ticket on the gravy train."
colleges  universities  economics  careers  finance  money  cost  price  education  joannejacobs 
july 2008 by robertogreco
O’DonnellWeb - This is not a homeschooling blog » Blog Archive » The declining value of a college degree
"Really, I do think the current teenybopper generation is going to be less concerned about the magical degree. If you can teach yourself intricate computer skills before age 16, why exactly do you need to spend $120K or more on college to get a computer r
colleges  universities  education  money  finance  trends  cost  price  future  learning  careers  jobs  work  deschooling  schooling  unschooling  autodidacts  lcproject 
july 2008 by robertogreco
The True Price of SMS Messages » a gthing science project
"So let’s do some math here, and figure out how much this simple transmission is actually costing us."
messaging  sms  texting  mobile  phones  cost  data  pricing 
january 2008 by robertogreco
Near Future Laboratory » Blog Archive » Finish Without Function
"This sounds about right. Rapid design and prototyping methods have slipped below all the usual barriers to entry — cost, complexity, access to tools and communities, etc. It’s almost as if you can make a prototype as real as the real thing."
prototyping  fabbing  fabrication  industrial  design  manufacturing  rapidprototyping  future  access  diy  make  artcenter  accd  education  learning  cost  tools 
december 2007 by robertogreco
What Does Iraq Cost? Even More Than You Think.
"Set aside question of what could have accomplished at home with energy and resources devoted to Iraq & concentrate just on national security. Here, hidden cost of the war, above all, is that US has lost much of its ability to halt nuclear proliferation."
economics  war  us  iraq  korea  nuclear  military  security  politics  policy  strategy  trust  geopolitics  energy  cost  tylercowen 
november 2007 by robertogreco

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