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On Quality Higher Education: An Essay in Three Installments, Part 1 | Howard Gardner
[Part 2:
Part 3:

Quotes below from various parts]

"Of the 1000 students whom we interviewed at length on ten disparate campuses, depressingly few report the experience of exploring new topics and acquiring new ways of thinking as central to their college experience."

"The principal purpose of a liberal arts education should be the achievement of academic and cognitive growth. Any other purpose needs to be deeply intertwined with these academic and cognitive priorities. By the conclusion of a four-year education in an institution that calls itself a liberal arts school, or that claims to infuse liberal arts significantly into a required curriculum, all graduates should have been exposed to a range of ways of thinking that scholars and other serious thinkers have developed over the decades, sometimes over centuries. Students should have ample practice in applying several ways of thinking; and they should be able to demonstrate, to a set of competent assessors, that they can analyze and apply these ways of thinking. Put specifically and succinctly, graduates should be able to read and critique literary, historical, and social scientific texts; exhibit mathematical, computational, and statistical analytic skills; and have significant practical “hands on” immersion in at least one scientific and one artistic area."

"When we began our own study some years ago, we were completely unprepared for two major findings across a deliberately disparate set of campuses. We found that challenges of mental health were encountered everywhere, and were, for whatever reasons, on the increase. And across campuses, we found as well (and presumably relatedly) that a large number of students reported their feeling that they did not belong; they felt alienated in one or another way—from the academic agenda, from their peers, from the overall institutions. And to our surprise, this alienation proved more prominent among graduating students than among incoming students!"

"When we began our own study some years ago, we were completely unprepared for two major findings across a deliberately disparate set of campuses. We found that challenges of mental health were encountered everywhere, and were, for whatever reasons, on the increase. And across campuses, we found as well (and presumably relatedly) that a large number of students reported their feeling that they did not belong; they felt alienated in one or another way—from the academic agenda, from their peers, from the overall institutions. And to our surprise, this alienation proved more prominent among graduating students than among incoming students!"

"Indeed, if non-academic goals—say, social or emotional development—are to be reached, they are likely to be reached as a result of the presence of appealing role models on campus and the way the institution itself is run and addresses challenges. If consistent modeling is ingrained in the culture of an institution, most students can be expected to live up to these high standards. To be sure, mental health and belonging issues may need to be specifically supported by trained professionals (either on or off campus)."

"At such times, institutions are tested as they have not been before. And higher education faces a clear choice: the sector can continue to claim, against the evidence and against plausibility, that it can repair the various fault lines in the society. Or it can reassert the major reason for its existence and strive to show that, in the present challenging climate, it can achieve what it was designed to achieve. If it fails, the whole sector is likely to be so fundamentally altered that the vision we’ve described will have disappeared—and perhaps for a very long time."
liberalarts  howardgardner  wendyfischman  highered  highereducation  mentalhealth  purpose  mission  belonging  criticalthinking  vocation  vocationaleducation  onboarding  missiondrift  cv  lcproject  openstudioproject  goals  meaning  meaningmaking  colleges  universities  economics  institutions  academia 
yesterday by robertogreco
26 | Black Mountain College — Do Not Touch
"We're going back to school and learning about an arts college in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. For 24 years the college attracted famous teachers and produced students who would go on to achieve their own fame. I have two guests speaking to me about Black Mountain - Kate Averett from the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center and Professor Eva Diaz from Pratt Institute."
bmc  2018  blackmountaincollege  bauhaus  annialbers  johndewey  art  arts  education  highered  highereducation  alternative  experimental  unschooling  deschooling  democracy  horizontality  evadiaz  kateaverett  history  arthistory  pedagogy  lcproject  openstudioproject  form  exploration  liberalarts  roberrauschenberg  willemdekooning  abstractexpressionism  howwework  discipline  self  identity  johncage  mercecunningham  self-directedlearning  self-directed  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  teaching  vision  cognition  expressionism  expression  music  dance  buckminsterfuller  technique  chance  happenings  anarchism  ego  spontaneity  unknown  improvisation  radicalism  transilience  northcarolina  transience  hippies  communes  integration  jacoblawrence  almastonewilliams  outsiders  refugees  inclusion  inclusivity  openness  gender  rayjohnson  elainedekooining  karenkarnes  dorothearockburn  hazellarsenarcher  blackmountaincollegemuseum  susanweil  maryparkswashington  josefalbers  charlesolson  poetry  johnandrewrice 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Marlboro College - Wikipedia
"Marlboro College is a small, private, academically rigorous liberal-arts college located in Marlboro, Vermont, United States, with an enrollment of 195 students. The College received a perfect academics rating of 99 from The Princeton Review in 2014.[1] Students at Marlboro create an individualized course of study in collaboration with faculty members and participate in a self-governed (self-run) community. Students pursue a self-designed, often inter-disciplinary thesis, the Plan of Concentration, based on their academic interests that culminates in a major body of scholarship.

Marlboro was ranked #117 (out of 1,611 institutions) among liberal arts colleges in the United States by U.S. News & World Report in 2017.[2]

The College's unique facilities that can be used by students include an organic farm, a solar greenhouse, Marlboro's own nature forestland preserve, and an aviary. Weekly "town meetings" are held to vote for and change the College's bylaws."
marlborocollege  smallschools  colleges  liberalarts  progressive  democratic 
august 2018 by robertogreco
“The Moral Crisis of the University” | Gardner Writes
"Michael B. Katz is a new discovery for me (h/t Roving Librarian). His scholarship on the history of public education in the fascinating, troubling, and revelatory. I’m sure his conclusions are contested–whose aren’t?–but at times the clarity and forcefulness of his insights take my breath away.

“The Moral Crisis of the University,” reprinted in Katz’s last book, Reconstructing American Education (1987), is full of such insights. The essay doesn’t make for happy reading, but every time I read it I come away with a renewed understanding of what will be lost if higher education centered on the life of the mind and nurtured by a strong sense of civic obligation disappears. In many cases, this has already happened. The change Katz describes in 1987 has accelerated in ways that may go beyond his worst nightmare. Along with that acceleration, of course, is a great deal of business as usual, as there always is. We look here when the real erosion is happening there. It’s hard to know where to look, even when there are no distractions–and there are always distractions.

There’s an old joke about going broke, credited to Hemingway: Q: “How did you go bankrupt?” A: “Little by little, then all at once.” During the little by little stage, people who sound various alarms risk being called cranks, or worse. And it’s true: a premature or mischievous cultivation of outrage may damage or destroy what little semblance of community may be left.

And yet, the little by little becomes greater every year. Michael Katz gives me a way to see that. With that clarity also comes hope, the hope that recognizing problems really is the first step toward addressing them, managing them, perhaps even solving them.

Here, then, for Week 7 of Open Learning ’18, my last week as hub director, is some Michael Katz for us to consider together.
[W]hat is it exactly that makes a university distinct from other social institutions? [Robert Paul] Wolff offered a compelling definition based on a conception of the ideal university as a “community of learning.” The ideal university, he argued, should be “a community of persons united by collective understandings, by common and communal goals, by bonds of reciprocal obligation, and by a flow of sentiment which makes the preservation of the community an object of desire, not merely a matter of prudence or a command of duty.” Community implies a form of social obligation governed by principles different from those operative in the marketplace and state. Laws of of supply and demand lose priority; wage-labor is not the template for all human relations; the translation of individuals into commodities is resisted. The difficult task of defining common goals or acceptable activity is neither avoided nor deflected onto bureaucracy….

For all their problems, universities and their faculties remain immensely privileged. They retain a freedom of activity and expression not permitted in any other major social institution. There are two justifications for this privilege. One is that it is an essential condition of teaching and learning. The other is that universities have become the major source of moral and social criticism in modern life. They are the major site of whatever social conscience we have left…. If the legitimacy of universities rested only on their service to the marketplace and state, internal freedom would not be an issue. But their legitimacy rests, in fact, on something else: their integrity. Like all privileges, the freedom enjoyed by universities carries correlative responsibilities. In their case it is intellectual honesty and moral courage. Modern universities are the greatest centers of intellectual power in history. Without integrity, they can become little more than supermarkets with raw power for sale. This is the tendency in the modern history of the higher learning. It is what I call the moral crisis of the university.

I firmly believe that these large questions are essential foundations for any effective change or conservation in higher education. For always some new things must be invented, some things will benefit from change, and some things must be conserved. Some core principles must remain non-negotiable. I agree with Katz: tenured faculty in higher education are the last, best hope for addressing these large questions of common goals and acceptable activities.

It may not yet be too late."
gardnercampbell  via:lukeneff  2018  lifeofthemind  liberalarts  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  community  learning  civics  robertpaulwolff  michaelkatz  1987  howwelearn  purpose  meaning  bureaucracy  interdependence  collectivism  understanding  responsibility  integrity  morality  ethics  neoliberalism 
april 2018 by robertogreco
What the Arete Project stands for
"1. We offer a higher vision for higher education. Current academic culture values achievement over learning, knowledge over wisdom, research over teaching, and frills over substance. The Arete Project provides an education in the liberal arts and sciences that helps students become thoughtful, responsible, and virtuous human beings. Students are invested with responsibilities that extend far beyond their GPAs; instructors are valued first as teachers and mentors and second as scholars; and education takes place as a communal enterprise in a setting of rustic simplicity.

2. We educate for service and leadership – with real stakes. Many leadership programs are little more than simulations. Many service-work programs are guilty of “voluntourism.” But at the Arete Project, students must create, sustain, and govern their own educational community, as well as work towards the wellbeing of the institution itself. Student self-governance is real. If the cow isn’t milked, she may sicken, leaving the kitchen without dairy products. If recruitment emails aren’t sent, we may have no applicants the next year. Students must take real responsibility for these critical and other functions of the organization.

3. We provide an educational antidote to social fragmentation. It is no secret that our world has fractured deeply along lines of income, identity, and ideology. Our programs require students to step outside of their comfort zones and to build and share an educational space with people from very different backgrounds. The intimacy of the community (including students, staff, and faculty) allows trust and real relationships to flourish; these relationships, in turn, enable the difficult conversations that our society so badly needs to have.

4. We train thoughtful stewards of the natural world. Though we are all ultimately dependent on the ecosystems around us, few of us feel that dependence in our daily lives. The Arete Project asks students to live for extended periods of time in rustic accommodations within rural and wilderness settings, and much work and recreation is out of doors. The labor program in particular – by having students grow their own food and build their own shelter – provides a chance to think deeply about humans' relationship to nature."
education  areteproject  lauramarcus  highered  highereducation  learning  knowledge  wisdom  teching  research  substance  frills  liberalarts  mentoring  responsibility  service  leadership  voluntourism  servicelearning  self-governance  governance  fragmentation  society  inequality  inclusivity  inclusion  lcproject  openstudioproject  relationships  conversation  stewardship  nature  ecosystems  ecology  sustainability  interdependence  labor  work  ideology  criticalthinking  pedagogy  academia  colleges  universities 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Design Thinking is Kind of Like Syphilis — It’s Contagious and Rots Your Brains
"Miller never bothers to define all the modes, and we will consider them more below. But for now, we should just note that the entire model is based on design consulting: You try to understand the client’s problem, what he or she wants or needs. You sharpen that problem so it’s easier to solve. You think of ways to solve it. You try those solutions out to see if they work. And then once you’ve settled on something, you ask your client for feedback. By the end, you’ve created a “solution,” which is also apparently an “innovation.”

Miller also never bothers to define the liberal arts. The closest he comes is to say they are ways of “thinking that all students should be exposed to because it enhances their understanding of everything else.” Nor does he make clear what he means by the idea that Design Thinking is or could be the new liberal arts. Is it but one new art to be added to the traditional liberal arts, such as grammar, logic, rhetoric, math, music, and science? Or does Miller think, like Hennessy and Kelly, that all of education should be rebuilt around the DTs? Who knows.

Miller is most impressed with Design Thinking’s Empathize Mode. He writes lyrically, “Human-centered design redescribes the classical aim of education as the care and tending of the soul; its focus on empathy follows directly from Rousseau’s stress on compassion as a social virtue.” Beautiful. Interesting.

But what are we really talking about here? The’s An Introduction to Design Thinking PROCESS GUIDE says, “The Empathize Mode is the work you do to understand people, within the context of your design challenge.” We can use language like “empathy” to dress things up, but this is Business 101. Listen to your client; find out what he or she wants or needs.

Miller calls the Empathize Mode “ethnography,” which is deeply uncharitable — and probably offensive — to cultural anthropologists who spend their entire lives learning how to observe other people. Few, if any, anthropologists would sign onto the idea that some amateurs at a “boot camp,” strolling around Stanford and gawking at strangers, constitutes ethnography. The Empathize Mode of Design Thinking is roughly as ethnographic as a marketing focus group or a crew of sleazoid consultants trying to feel out and up their clients’ desires.

What Miller, Kelly, and Hennessy are asking us to imagine is that design consulting is or could be a model for retooling all of education, that it has some method for “producing reliably innovative results in any field.” They believe that we should use Design Thinking to reform education by treating students as customers, or clients, and making sure our customers are getting what they want. And they assert that Design Thinking should be a central part of what students learn, so that graduates come to approach social reality through the model of design consulting. In other words, we should view all of society as if we are in the design consulting business."

In recent episode of the Design Observer podcast, Jen added further thoughts on Design Thinking. “The marketing of design thinking is completely bullshit. It’s even getting worse and worse now that [Stanford has] three-day boot camps that offer certified programs — as if anyone who enrolled in these programs can become a designer and think like a designer and work like a designer.” She also resists the idea that any single methodology “can deal with any kind of situation — not to mention the very complex society that we’re in today.”

In informal survey I conducted with individuals who either teach at or were trained at the top art, architecture, and design schools in the USA, most respondents said that they and their colleagues do not use the term Design Thinking. Most of the people pushing the DTs in higher education are at second- and third-tier universities and, ironically, aren’t innovating but rather emulating Stanford. In afew cases, respondents said they did know a colleague or two who was saying “Design Thinking” frequently, but in every case, the individuals were using the DTs either to increase their turf within the university or to extract resources from college administrators who are often willing to throw money at anything that smacks of “innovation.”

Moreover, individuals working in art, architecture, and design schools tend to be quite critical of existing DT programs. Reportedly, some schools are creating Design Thinking tracks for unpromising students who couldn’t hack it in traditional architecture or design programs — DT as “design lite.” The individuals I talked to also had strong reservations about the products coming out of Design Thinking classes. A traditional project in DT classes involves undergraduate students leading “multidisciplinary” or “transdisciplinary” teams drawing on faculty expertise around campus to solve some problem of interest to the students. The students are not experts in anything, however, and the projects often take the form of, as one person put it, “kids trying to save the world.”

One architecture professor I interviewed had been asked to sit in on a Design Thinking course’s critique, a tradition at architecture and design schools where outside experts are brought in to offer (often tough) feedback on student projects. The professor watched a student explain her design: a technology that was meant to connect mothers with their premature babies who they cannot touch directly. The professor wondered, what is the message about learning that students get from such projects? “I guess the idea is that this work empowers the students to believe they are applying their design skills,” the professor told me. “But I couldn’t critique it as design because there was nothing to it as design. So what’s left? Is good will enough?

As others put it to me, Design Thinking gives students an unrealistic idea of design and the work that goes into creating positive change. Upending that old dictum “knowledge is power,” Design Thinkers giver their students power without knowledge, “creative confidence” without actual capabilities.

It’s also an elitist, Great White Hope vision of change that literally asks students to imagine themselves entering a situation to solve other people’s problems. Among other things, this situation often leads to significant mismatch between designers’ visions — even after practicing “empathy” — and users’ actual needs. Perhaps the most famous example is the PlayPump, a piece of merry-go-round equipment that would pump water when children used it. Designers envisioned that the PlayPump would provide water to thousands of African communities. Only kids didn’t show up, including because there was no local cultural tradition of playing with merry-go-rounds.

Unsurprisingly, Design Thinking-types were enthusiastic about the PlayPump. Tom Hulme, the design director at IDEO’s London office, created a webpage called OpenIDEO, where users could share “open source innovation.” Hulme explained that he found himself asking, “What would IDEO look like on steroids? [We might ask the same question about crack cocaine or PCP.] What would it look like when you invite everybody into everything? I set myself the challenge of . . . radical open-innovation collaboration.” OpenIDEO community users were enthusiastic about the PlayPump — even a year after the system had been debunked, suggesting inviting everyone to everything gets you people who don’t do research. One OpenIDEO user enthused that the PlayPump highlighted how “fun can be combined with real needs.”

Thom Moran, an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Michigan, told me that Design Thinking brought “a whole set of values about what design’s supposed to look like,” including that everything is supposed to be “fun” and “play,” and that the focus is less on “what would work.” Moran went on, “The disappointing part for me is that I really do believe that architecture, art, and design should be thought of as being a part of the liberal arts. They provide a unique skill set for looking at and engaging the world, and being critical of it.” Like others I talked to, Moran doesn’t see this kind of critical thinking in the popular form of Design Thinking, which tends to ignore politics, environmental issues, and global economic problems.

Moran holds up the Swiffer — the sweeper-mop with disposable covers designed by an IDEO-clone design consultancy, Continuum — as a good example of what Design Thinking is all about. “It’s design as marketing,” he said. “It’s about looking for and exploiting a market niche. It’s not really about a new and better world. It’s about exquisitely calibrating a product to a market niche that is underexploited.” The Swiffer involves a slight change in old technologies, and it is wasteful. Others made this same connection between Design Thinking and marketing. One architect said that Design Thinking “really belongs in business schools, where they teach marketing and other forms of moral depravity.”

“That’s what’s most annoying,” Moran went on. “I fundamentally believe in this stuff as a model of education. But it’s business consultants who give TED Talks who are out there selling it. It’s all anti-intellectual. That’s the problem. Architecture and design are profoundly intellectual. But for these people, it’s not a form of critical thought; it’s a form of salesmanship.”

Here’s my one caveat: it could be true that the DTs are a good way to teach design or business. I wouldn’t know. I am not a designer (or business school professor). I am struck, however, by how many designers, including Natasha Jen and Thom Moran, believe that the DTs are nonsense. In the end, I will leave this discussion up to designers. It’s their show. My concern is a different one — namely that… [more]
designthinking  innovation  ideas  2017  design  leevinsel  maintenance  repair  ideation  problemsolving  davidedgerton  willthomas  billburnett  daveevans  stanford  natashajen  herbertsimon  robertmckim  ideo  singularity  singularityuniversity  education  schools  teaching  liberalarts  petermiller  esaleninstitute  newage  hassoplattner  johnhennessey  davidkelly  jimjones  empathy  ethnography  consulting  business  bullshit  marketing  snakeoil  criticism  criticalthinking  highereducation  highered  thomamoran  tedtalks  openideo  playpump  designimperialism  whitesaviors  post-its  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  art  architecture  complexity  simplicity  methodology  process  emptiness  universities  colleges  philipmirowski  entrepreneurship  lawrencebusch  elizabethpoppberman  nathanielcomfort  margaretbrindle  peterstearns  christophermckenna  hucksterism  self-promotion  hype  georgeorwell  nathanrosenberg  davidmowery  stevenklepper  davidhounshell  patrickmccray  marianamazzucato  andréspicer  humanitariandesign 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Alder College – A Liberal Arts College in Portland, Oregon
via: ]

"Alder is a new kind of college built on relationships, bringing the best of the liberal arts to a richly inclusive student body in the heart of Portland.

The health of our communities depends on dynamic thinkers who can approach complex systems with curiosity, creativity and nuance. In order to create a more equitable and inclusive future, we will also need leaders drawn from a wide range of backgrounds. Alder will be a two year liberal arts college for students who will become these thought leaders.

Alder will focus on the crucial first two years of college, offering a rigorous yet supportive academic environment, where full-time faculty teach a richly inclusive and deeply diverse student body recruited from the talent we know is right here in Oregon.

Recruitment will be local (Portland metro area), and focus on building relationships with high school staff and teachers to identify students who would benefit most from an Alder education.

Students take courses with the same cohort throughout their two years, giving them the time to develop relationships with peers and professors and create a vibrant, tight-knit intellectual community.

Students spend two years with a core group of faculty who are engaged in collaborative pedagogy.

Based on the success of learning communities, the two-year curriculum is integrated to encourage coherent cross-subject learning. Faculty collaboratively develop syllabi and scaffold assignments to build skills across disciplines and quarters.

Learning increases when students interact with classmates from different backgrounds. Society benefits when a more diverse group of students pursues liberal arts education. Alder College will prioritize admitting and retaining a diverse student body through its recruitment practices.

Whether students decide their next step means attending a four-year college or university, entering the workforce, or pursuing an alternative program of study, Alder College will provide them with the skills and knowledge to make informed decisions.

We know that the best way to serve both our students and our city is by cultivating thick networks that encourage exploration and ongoing dialogue. By creating teams of community members and supporters, we will begin these conversations that will continue long after the first students walk through our doors.

Through strong connections with local organizations and high schools, Alder will work with teachers and mentors to identify students who would benefit from Alder’s rigorous yet supportive academic environment.

The liberal arts are thriving all over the Portland area in theaters and galleries, at concerts and at book readings. Alder will tap into this rich artistic tapestry and show students that this is only the beginning of their intellectual engagement with the world.

Alder will create an open dialogue with local business leaders to understand their workforce needs, help our students make informed career choices, and create a network that connects students with potential employers.

Alder will act as a lab school, sharing best practices with other institutions that may want to integrate elements of our work into their programs.

“How much does it cost to educate a student?” Alder will constantly ask how a new kind of school might answer that question.

Alder is an incubator, developing practices that can be shared and modified to benefit students in a number of settings."
colleges  universities  alternative  srg  oregon  portland  liberalarts  relationships  education  highered  highereducation  progressive  deepspringscollege  local 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Scratching the Surface — 24. Sara Hendren
"Sara Hendren is a designer, artist, writer, and professor whose work centers around adaptive and assistive technologies, prosthetics, inclusive design, accessible architecture, and related ideas. She teaches inclusive design practices at Olin College in Massachusetts and writes and edits Abler, her site to collect and comment on art, adaptive technologies and prosthetics, and the future of human bodies in the built environment. In this episode, Sara and I talk about her own background and using design to manifest ideas in the world, the role of writing in her own design practice, and how teaches these ideas with her students."

[audio: ]
sarahendren  jarrettfuller  design  2017  interviews  johndewey  wendyjacob  nataliejeremijenko  remkoolhaas  timmaly  clairepentecost  alexandralange  alissawalker  michaelrock  alfredojaar  oliversacks  bldgblog  geoffmanaugh  nicolatwilley  amateurs  amateurism  dabbling  art  artists  generalists  creativegeneralists  disability  engineering  criticaltheory  integatededucation  integratedcurriculum  identity  self  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  assistivetechnology  technology  olincollege  humanities  liberalarts  disabilities  scratchingthesurface 
april 2017 by robertogreco
No. 225: Helen Molesworth, Jennifer Raab | The Modern Art Notes Podcast
"Episode No. 225 of The Modern Art Notes Podcast features curator Helen Molesworth and art historian Jennifer Raab.

Molesworth’s “Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957” is on view at the Hammer Museum through May 15. It is the first exhibition to examine Black Mountain College, an experimental, inter-disciplinary and immensely influential liberal arts college in the mountains of western North Carolina. The school attracted faculty and students from all over the world at a time when World War II was forcing significant global emigration, and thus provided a place where questions of globalism and the role of the artist in society were considered and furthered. Among the artists who spent time at Black Mountain and who are included in Molesworth’s exhibition are Ruth Asawa, Willem de Kooning, Josef and Anni Albers, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Ray Johnson, Jess and plenty more. Ninety artists are included in Molesworth’s show. The show’s outstanding, must-own catalogue was published by Yale University Press.

Molesworth is the chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Her previous exhibitions include “This Will Have Been,” which examined the impact of feminism on the art of the 1980s, and “Work Ethic,” which looked at how mostly 1960s artists merged everyday life with art-making.

On the second segment, art historian Jennifer Raab discusses her new book, “Frederic Church: The Art and Science of Detail.” The book examines how and why Church used unusually detailed passages in enormous paintings to engage contemporary debates about Union, nation and science. Raab teaches at Yale University."

[Direct link to SoundCloud: ]
helenmolesworth  jenniferraab  leapbeforeyoulook  bmc  blackmountaincollege  2016  art  curation  history  education  artseducation  liberalarts  diversity  highered  highereducation  progressive  progressiveeducation  learning  howwelearn  pedagogy  teaching  howeteach  inquiry  modernism  postmodernism  form  process  materials  via:jarrettfuller  interdisciplinary  interdisciplinarity  collaboration  disciplines  ruthasawa  mercecunningham  josefalbers  theastergates  rebuildfoundation  lowresidencymfas  bardcollege  oberlincollege  vermontcollege  bhqfu  noahdavis  undergroundmuseum  mountainschoolofarts  andreazittel  greggbordowitz  artinstituteofchicago 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Learn By Painting - The New Yorker
"What made Black Mountain different from other colleges was that the center of the curriculum was art-making. Students studied pretty much whatever they wanted, but everyone was supposed to take a class in some kind of artistic practice—painting, weaving, sculpture, pottery, poetry, architecture, design, dance, music, photography. The goal was not to produce painters, poets, and architects. It was to produce citizens.

Black Mountain was founded by a renegade classics professor named John Andrew Rice, who had been kicked out of Rollins College, in Florida. Rice believed that making something is a different learning experience from remembering something. A lot of education is reception. You listen to an expert explain a subject to you, and then you repeat back what you heard to show that you learned it. Teachers push students to engage actively with the material, but it’s easy to be passive, to absorb the information and check off the box.

Rice thought that this made for bad social habits. Democracy is about making choices, and people need to take ownership of their choices. We don’t want to vote the way someone else tells us to. We want to vote based on beliefs we have chosen for ourselves. Making art is making choices. Art-making is practice democracy.

Rice did not think of art-making as therapy or self-expression. He thought of it as mental training. As anyone who has tried to write a poem knows, the discipline in art-making is exercised from within rather than without. You quickly realize that it’s your own laziness, ignorance, and sloppiness, not somebody else’s bad advice, that are getting in your way. No one can write your poem for you. You have to figure out a way to write it yourself. You have to make a something where there was a nothing.

A lot of Rice’s ideas came from the educational philosophy of John Dewey (although the idea that true learning has to come from within goes back to Plato), and Rice was lucky to find an art teacher who had read Dewey and who thought the same way. This was Josef Albers. Albers had not been so lucky. He was an original member of the Bauhaus school, but when Hitler came to power, in 1933, the Bauhaus closed down rather than accept Nazi professors. Albers’s wife, Anni, was from a prominent Jewish family, and they were understandably anxious to get out of Germany. Rice heard about them from the architect Philip Johnson, and he sent a telegram to Albers inviting him and his wife to come teach at Black Mountain. The reply read: “I speak not one word English.” (Albers had read his Dewey in translation.) Rice told him to come anyway. Albers eventually did learn English, and he and Anni, an accomplished and creative weaver, established the mode of art instruction at Black Mountain. Everything would be hands-on, collaborative, materials-based, and experimental.

Bauhaus was all about abolishing distinctions between craft, or design, and fine art, and Black Mountain was one of the places where this aesthetic entered the world of American art. (Another was the Carnegie Institute of Technology, in Pittsburgh, where Andy Warhol went to college.) Albers’s most famous (although probably not his favorite) student at Black Mountain was Robert Rauschenberg, and Rauschenberg is the presiding spirit at the I.C.A. exhibition. Although goofier than most Black Mountain art—there is an earnestness about a lot of the work; this was schoolwork, after all—putting an automobile tire around a stuffed goat is the essence of Black Mountain practice.

Black Mountain College was a holistic learning environment. Teachers and students worked together; people who came to teach (and who stayed—not everyone found the work conditions to their liking) sat in on one another’s classes and ended up learning as much as the students. When a new building needed to be constructed, students and teachers built it themselves, just as, at the old Dewey School, at the University of Chicago, the children grew their own food and cooked their own meals.

It seems as though half the midcentury American avant-garde came through Black Mountain in one capacity or the other. The I.C.A. exhibition includes works by (besides Rauschenberg and the Alberses) Ruth Asawa, John Cage, John Chamberlain, Robert Creeley, Merce Cunningham, Elaine and Willem de Kooning, Robert Duncan, Buckminster Fuller, Shoji Hamada, Lou Harrison, Ray Johnson, Franz Kline, Jacob Lawrence, Robert Motherwell, Kenneth Noland, Charles Olson, Ben Shahn, David Tudor, and Cy Twombly. Black Mountain produced art of almost every kind.

Did it also produce good citizens? That’s an educational outcome everyone embraces but that’s hard to measure. In the case of Black Mountain, the sample size is miniscule, and most students left before graduating. There is also the self-selection issue. People who choose to attend progressive colleges are already progressive-minded, just as people who want a liberal education are usually already liberal (meaning interested in knowledge for its own sake), and people who prefer vocational or pre-professional education are already headed down those roads. College choice tends to confirm prior effects of socialization. But why keep those things separate? Knowing and doing are two sides of the same activity, which is adapting to our environment. That was Dewey’s point.

People who teach in the traditional liberal-arts fields today are sometimes aghast at the avidity with which undergraduates flock to courses in tech fields, like computer science. Maybe those students see dollar signs in coding. Why shouldn’t they? Right now, tech is where value is being created, as they say. But maybe students are also excited to take courses in which knowing and making are part of the same learning process. Those tech courses are hands-on, collaborative, materials-based (well, virtual materials), and experimental—a digital Black Mountain curriculum. The other liberal-arts fields might take notice. Arts practice should be part of everyone’s education, not just in preschool."
blackmountaincollege  bmc  2015  louismenand  johndewey  democracy  practice  experience  education  tcsnmy  progressive  progressivism  art  arts  highered  highereducation  collectivism  learning  unschooling  deschooling  bauhaus  johnandrewrice  making  creativity  josefalbers  annialbers  craft  design  robertrauschenberg  collaboration  ruthasawa  johncage  mercecunningham  buckminsterfuller  willemdekooning  robertduncan  johnchamberlain  robertcreeley  shojihamada  louharrison  rayjohnson  franzkline  jacoblawrence  robertmotherwell  charlesolson  benshahn  davidtudor  cytwombly  kennethnoland  elainedekooning  liberalarts  technology 
november 2015 by robertogreco
[Essay] | The Neoliberal Arts, by William Deresiewicz | Harper's Magazine
"I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.


Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.

A spatial structure, the sentence also suggests a temporal sequence. Thinking clearly, it wants us to recognize, leads to thinking independently. Thinking independently leads to living confidently. Living confidently leads to living courageously. Living courageously leads to living hopefully. And the entire chain begins with a college that recognizes it has an obligation to its students, an obligation to develop their abilities to think and live.

Finally, the sentence is attributed to an individual. It expresses her convictions and ideals. It announces that she is prepared to hold herself accountable for certain responsibilities.

The second text is not a sentence. It is four words floating in space, unconnected to one another or to any other concept. Four words — four slogans, really — whose meaning and function are left undefined, open to whatever interpretation the reader cares to project on them.

Four words, three of which — “leadership,” “service,” and “creativity” — are the loudest buzzwords in contemporary higher education. (“Integrity” is presumably intended as a synonym for the more familiar “character,” which for colleges at this point means nothing more than not cheating.) The text is not the statement of an individual; it is the emanation of a bureaucracy. In this case, a literally anonymous bureaucracy: no one could tell me when this version of the institution’s mission statement was formulated, or by whom. No one could even tell me who had decided to hang those banners all over campus. The sentence from the founder has also long been mounted on the college walls. The other words had just appeared, as if enunciated by the zeitgeist.

But the most important thing to note about the second text is what it doesn’t talk about: thinking or learning. In what it both does and doesn’t say, it therefore constitutes an apt reflection of the current state of higher education. College is seldom about thinking or learning anymore. Everyone is running around trying to figure out what it is about. So far, they have come up with buzzwords, mainly those three.

This is education in the age of neoliberalism. Call it Reaganism or Thatcherism, economism or market fundamentalism, neoliberalism is an ideology that reduces all values to money values. The worth of a thing is the price of the thing. The worth of a person is the wealth of the person. Neoliberalism tells you that you are valuable exclusively in terms of your activity in the marketplace — in Wordsworth’s phrase, your getting and spending.

The purpose of education in a neoliberal age is to produce producers. I published a book last year that said that, by and large, elite American universities no longer provide their students with a real education, one that addresses them as complete human beings rather than as future specialists — that enables them, as I put it, to build a self or (following Keats) to become a soul. Of all the responses the book aroused, the most dismaying was this: that so many individuals associated with those institutions said not, “Of course we provide our students with a real education,” but rather, “What is this ‘real education’ nonsense, anyway?”"

"So what’s so bad about leadership, service, and creativity? What’s bad about them is that, as they’re understood on campus and beyond, they are all encased in neoliberal assumptions. Neoliberalism, which dovetails perfectly with meritocracy, has generated a caste system: “winners and losers,” “makers and takers,” “the best and the brightest,” the whole gospel of Ayn Rand and her Übermenschen. That’s what “leadership” is finally about. There are leaders, and then there is everyone else: the led, presumably — the followers, the little people. Leaders get things done; leaders take command. When colleges promise to make their students leaders, they’re telling them they’re going to be in charge.

“Service” is what the winners engage in when they find themselves in a benevolent mood. Call it Clintonism, by analogy with Reaganism. Bill Clinton not only ratified the neoliberal consensus as president, he has extended its logic as a former president. Reaganism means the affluent have all the money, as well as all the power. Clintonism means they use their money and power, or a bit of it, to help the less fortunate — because the less fortunate (i.e., the losers) can’t help themselves. Hence the Clinton Foundation, hence every philanthropic or altruistic endeavor on the part of highly privileged, highly credentialed, highly resourced elites, including all those nonprofits or socially conscious for-profits that college students start or dream of starting.

“Creativity,” meanwhile, is basically a business concept, aligned with the other clichés that have come to us from the management schools by way of Silicon Valley: “disruption,” “innovation,” “transformation.” “Creativity” is not about becoming an artist. No one wants you to become an artist. It’s about devising “innovative” products, services, and techniques — “solutions,” which imply that you already know the problem. “Creativity” means design thinking, in the terms articulated by the writer Amy Whitaker, not art thinking: getting from A to a predetermined B, not engaging in an open-ended exploratory process in the course of which you discover the B.

Leadership, service, and creativity do not seek fundamental change (remember, fundamental change is out in neoliberalism); they seek technological or technocratic change within a static social framework, within a market framework. Which is really too bad, because the biggest challenges we face — climate change, resource depletion, the disappearance of work in the face of automation — will require nothing less than fundamental change, a new organization of society. If there was ever a time that we needed young people to imagine a different world, that time is now.

We have always been, in the United States, what Lionel Trilling called a business civilization. But we have also always had a range of counterbalancing institutions, countercultural institutions, to advance a different set of values: the churches, the arts, the democratic tradition itself. When the pendulum has swung too far in one direction (and it’s always the same direction), new institutions or movements have emerged, or old ones have renewed their mission. Education in general, and higher education in particular, has always been one of those institutions. But now the market has become so powerful that it’s swallowing the very things that are supposed to keep it in check. Artists are becoming “creatives.” Journalism has become “the media.” Government is bought and paid for. The prosperity gospel has arisen as one of the most prominent movements in American Christianity. And colleges and universities are acting like businesses, and in the service of businesses.

What is to be done? Those very same WASP aristocrats — enough of them, at least, including several presidents of Harvard and Yale — when facing the failure of their own class in the form of the Great Depression, succeeded in superseding themselves and creating a new system, the meritocracy we live with now. But I’m not sure we possess the moral resources to do the same. The WASPs had been taught that leadership meant putting the collective good ahead of your own. But meritocracy means looking out for number one, and neoliberalism doesn’t believe in the collective. As Margaret Thatcher famously said about society, “There’s no such thing. There are individual men and women, and there are families.” As for elite university presidents, they are little more these days than lackeys of the plutocracy, with all the moral stature of the butler in a country house.

Neoliberalism disarms us in another sense as well. For all its rhetoric of freedom and individual initiative, the culture of the market is exceptionally good at inculcating a sense of helplessness. So much of the language around college today, and so much of the negative response to my suggestion that students ought to worry less about pursuing wealth and more about constructing a sense of purpose for themselves, presumes that young people are the passive objects of economic forces. That they have no agency, no options. That they have to do what the market tells them. A Princeton student literally made this argument to me: If the market is incentivizing me to go to Wall Street, he said, then who am I to argue?

I have also had the pleasure, over the past year, of hearing from a lot of people who are pushing back against the dictates of neoliberal education: starting high schools, starting colleges, creating alternatives to high school and college, making documentaries, launching nonprofits, parenting in different ways, conducting their lives in different ways. I welcome these efforts, but none of them address the fundamental problem, which is that we no longer believe in public solutions. We only … [more]
williamderesiewicz  education  highereducation  neoliberalism  capitalism  learning  purpose  stevenpinker  2015  individualism  economics  leadership  missionstatements  courage  confidence  hope  criticalthinking  independence  autonomy  liberalarts  wealth  inequality  citizenship  civics  society  highered  publicpurpose  business  ronaldreagan  billclinton  margaretthatcher  government  media  lioneltrilling  socialgood  creativity  innovation  amywhitaker  service  servicelearning  change  fundamentalchange  systemsthinking  us  civilization  transformation  money  power  aynrand  meritocracy  plutocracy  college  colleges  universities  schools  markets  wallstreet  helplessness  elitism  berniesanders  communitycolleges  aristocracy  reaganism  clintonism  politics  entrepreneurship  volunteerism  rickscott  corporatization  modernity  joshuarothman  greatbooks  1960s  stem  steam  commercialization  davidbrooks 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Public Books — Can There Be a Feminist World?
"My work stands, then, in a spectrum, from theory through the teaching of theory in the West and the elite schools of the world, into the practice of activism. I am not interested in the activism of literacy. When we send our children to school, we do not send them to learn literacy. I do not have different standards. My standards are the same at Columbia University and my rural schools. The Human Development Index, in order to measure a country’s development, asks for quantity: how many years of schooling. When the team that put the Index together look for their own children, they look for quality. As long as there is this difference between human beings, we will not have a just world. Superficial activists located in the international civil society make much of access to education. They do not have the time, patience, or yet preparation to realize that the wretched quality of education in the bottom layers of society, even when available to women, does not change internalized core values—rape and bribe as normal. (In fact, quality education without slow humanities training also does nothing much to change this. We will remember this as I go on with my words this evening.)"

"I am a teacher of the humanities. I do not directly influence state policy. Humanities teachers are like personal trainers in the gym of the mind. They believe that unless this work is done at the same time as agitating for merely legal change, generation after generation, persistently, supplemented by rearranging the desires of people, nothing can succeed. In the long run, if laws have to be constantly enforced on the majority, without any change in how people really think about rape, honor killings, gender discrimination in general—and I mean people, men and women—the laws become useless, ways of dodging them proliferate, and force takes over; not a feminist world. Short-term problem solving should not be stopped. There are too many problems. But the kind of work we do, silent work, quiet work, slow work, is the work that sustains everything. “Public awareness” preaches to the choir, at best makes the choir a bit larger. “Sustainable” is used only in the economic/ecologic sphere. We humanities teachers can be the sustainers, because generation after generation, we can produce the will to sustain. We can work toward being the long-term producers of problem solvers. We do not solve problems top-down, 24/7, with little result."

"This creates a particular problem for us, as concerned women, because women in the underclass, as I said before, are socially obliged to care for others. Socially obliged. In the ethical, therefore, we have to learn to work within this contradiction. When we work with homeworkers, sweated labor inside the home without any workplace regulation at all, sometimes the women themselves say: we are supposed to do all the work at home anyway, and here we are getting paid for it, so what’s your problem? This is the kind of contradiction—women willing their subjection as ethical—within which you have to work. If ethics is other-directedness, because women and servants have always been obliged to be directed toward others, we are obliged to work within this contradiction and take this practice away from cultural requirements into training for what I will call, in this brief talk, the literary—not literature, because what I am talking about is not identical with what is recognized as literature, which came into being, in terms of history, very recently, and which is also specific to certain areas of the world. What we define as the literary is that of which the reading, making sense, is for its own sake, necessarily requiring that you suspend yourself in what the writer or the speaker says, rather than using it for self-interest. This is classroom teaching in literature. In any kind of classroom teaching in literature, you know that the teacher who teaches you how to read what the writer means, rather than making the writer’s text resemble what you yourself think, is teaching the literary. This is real literary teaching. This so-called training in reading is a practice of moving away from your self-interest into the other’s interest. It is just training for unconditional ethics; it does not make you ethical. It is like going to the gym and training your body, which does not necessarily make you an athlete; but without it, you will not be able to do anything. It is training. So always “me,” “my rights,” and so forth is not going to produce a just world.

If at the bottom there is no training for intellectual labor because we have denied the right to intellectual labor, from within the caste/race/class/gender/colonial system, millennially, we have punished them for intellectual labor and trained them for nothing but obedience; then, at the top, intellectual labor is no longer understood or undertaken because of this untrained use of the digital, of so-called social media. I am not a technophobe, but the digital is like a powerful wild horse, you have to have a slow-trained mind, in order to use it properly.
I am not against social media. I am not against any civil society worker. To be against is to deny complicity. I am so much for the digital that I think people need to prepare for it. Otherwise cybercrime, pornography. The New York Times reported that top Silicon Valley executives send their children to schools where there is no computer training. Why do they do that? Because they best of all know, they understand, that you cannot use this incredibly powerful and dangerous instrument with minds that are untrained."

"I belong to the middle class, and I was born in 1942 in Calcutta, where and when the middle class had servants. Being humane and kind to servants is not a just world; it is feudal benevolence. The idea of democracy is where you think about other people not as things, but as equal. That is different from feudal benevolence, which is a lot present both here, in my world, and in the rest of the world, transforming itself now to long-distance remote-control top-down philanthropy. There is no systemic instrument of social justice any more. In the 1980s, when I worked in Algeria, I would ask women in the so-called “socialist villages”: “What is it to vote?” The answers made it clear to me that voting had something to do with insights that the postcolonial state belongs to citizens, females and males. And then in 1991, after the Islamic Salvation Front came to power by democratic procedure in Algeria, I also saw the massive involvement of chador-wearing office-cleaning women, altogether underreported, in overturning an elected government, and the rest is history. Since 1986, my involvement with the landless illiterate, in the country of my citizenship, and of my first language because you can only teach in a language you know well, has made me realize that the question we asked—“What is it to vote?”—is the presupposition for developing democratic intuition rather than only a test."

"In conclusion, a summary: because I work in high theory in a very elite school, teaching this material to students, and also at the other end, teaching and training the very poor, trying to learn from below, because they are very different from us, the landless illiterate in the world’s largest democracy, I am learning to share my experience at both ends in terms of a gender-just world. My theory is therefore one of supplementing, wherever one’s own sphere of interest is universalized. I base social theory on gender. I say that ethical theory, a theory of unconditional ethics, can be practically taught through the literary-philosophical. I base political intervention on a performative contradiction that must presuppose what it wants to achieve. Supplementing work is persistent, I say, and define activism as imaginative training for epistemological performance; in labor movement work, ecological work, among the poor. The thing dearest to my heart is teaching the intuitions of democracy through an understanding of the meaning of the right to intellectual labor, on top as well as below. Thank you for your attention. Flesh it out for your own world."

[via: ]
via:aworkinglibrary  2015  feminism  gayatrichakravortyspivak  slow  education  technology  socialmedia  gender  obedience  humanities  liberalarts  zoominginandout  sustainability  class  care  literacy 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Why America’s obsession with STEM education is dangerous - The Washington Post
"For most of its history, the United States was unique in offering a well-rounded education. In their comprehensive study, “The Race Between Education and Technology,” Harvard’s Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz point out that in the 19th century, countries like Britain, France and Germany educated only a few and put them through narrow programs designed to impart only the skills crucial to their professions. America, by contrast, provided mass general education because people were not rooted in specific locations with long-established trades that offered the only paths forward for young men. And the American economy historically changed so quickly that the nature of work and the requirements for success tended to shift from one generation to the next. People didn’t want to lock themselves into one professional guild or learn one specific skill for life.

That was appropriate in another era, the technologists argue, but it is dangerous in today’s world. Look at where American kids stand compared with their peers abroad. The most recent international test, conducted in 2012, found that among the 34 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States ranked 27th in math, 20th in science and 17th in reading. If rankings across the three subjects are averaged, the United States comes in 21st, trailing nations such as the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia and Estonia.

In truth, though, the United States has never done well on international tests, and they are not good predictors of our national success. Since 1964, when the first such exam was administered to 13-year-olds in 12 countries, America has lagged behind its peers, rarely rising above the middle of the pack and doing particularly poorly in science and math. And yet over these past five decades, that same laggard country has dominated the world of science, technology, research and innovation.

Consider the same pattern in two other highly innovative countries, Sweden and Israel. Israel ranks first in the world in venture-capital investments as a percentage of GDP; the United States ranks second, and Sweden is sixth, ahead of Great Britain and Germany. These nations do well by most measures of innovation, such as research and development spending and the number of high-tech companies as a share of all public companies. Yet all three countries fare surprisingly poorly in the OECD test rankings. Sweden and Israel performed even worse than the United States on the 2012 assessment, landing overall at 28th and 29th, respectively, among the 34 most-developed economies.

But other than bad test-takers, their economies have a few important traits in common: They are flexible. Their work cultures are non-hierarchical and merit-based. All operate like young countries, with energy and dynamism. All three are open societies, happy to let in the world’s ideas, goods and services. And people in all three nations are confident — a characteristic that can be measured. Despite ranking 27th and 30th in math, respectively, American and Israeli students came out at the top in their belief in their math abilities, if one tallies up their responses to survey questions about their skills. Sweden came in seventh, even though its math ranking was 28th.

Thirty years ago, William Bennett, the Reagan-era secretary of education, noticed this disparity between achievement and confidence and quipped, “This country is a lot better at teaching self-esteem than it is at teaching math.” It’s a funny line, but there is actually something powerful in the plucky confidence of American, Swedish and Israeli students. It allows them to challenge their elders, start companies, persist when others think they are wrong and pick themselves up when they fail. Too much confidence runs the risk of self-delusion, but the trait is an essential ingredient for entrepreneurship."
stem  education  testing  standardizedtesting  us  policy  sweden  israel  testscores  comparison  innovation  technology  science  conformity  conformism  standardization  diversity  williambennett  nclb  rttt  ronaldreagan  anationatrisk  writing  criticalthinking  liberalarts  fareedzakaria  2015 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Wary About Wisdom | Easily Distracted
"It’s a familiar critique, and I endorse much of it. In part because I can imagine the classrooms and institutions that would follow these critiques. To me, much of what Davidson asks for can be done, and if done will show a greater and more effective fidelity to what many educators (and the wider society) already regard as the purposes of education, whether that’s the cultivation of humanity or teaching how to add. I have no trouble, in other words, arguing for the wholly conventional value of a substantially reimagined academy in these terms.

However, in any educational project that emphasizes the cultivation of humanity, at least, there is a difficult moment lying in wait. It’s fairly easy to demonstrate that specialized knowledge or skills are not present in people who have not received relevant training or education. When we talk about wisdom or ethics, however, I think it’s equally easy to demonstrate that people who have had no educational experiences at all, or education that did not emphasize wisdom and ethics, nevertheless possess great wisdom or ethical insight.

Arguably, our current educational systems at the very least are neutral in their production of wisdom, ethical insight, emotional intelligence and common sense. (Unless you mean that last in the Gramscian sense.) Davidson might well say at this point, “Exactly! Which is why we need a change.”

I can see what a learner-driven classroom looks like, or how we might rethink failure and assessment. I don’t know that I can see what an education that produces ethics and wisdom looks like such that I would be confident that it would produce people who were consistently more wise and more ethical than anyone without that education would be.

What I unfortunately can see is that setting out to make someone ethical or wise through directed learning might actually be counterproductive. Because to do so requires a prior notion of what an ethical, wise outcome looks like and thus creates the almost unavoidable temptation to demand a performative loyalty to that outcome rather than an inner, intersubjective incorporation of it.

If we thought instead about ethics and wisdom as rising out of experience and time, then that might attractively lead back towards the general reform of education towards projects, towards making and doing. However, if that’s yet another argument for some form of constructivist learning, then beware fixed goals. A classroom built around processes and experiences is a classroom that has to accept dramatically contingent outcomes. If we embrace Davidson’s new definition of the liberal arts, paradoxically, we have to embrace that one of its outcomes might be citizens whose ethics and wisdom are nothing like what we imagined those words contained before we began our teaching. We might also find it’s one thing to live up to an expectation of knowledgeability and another altogether to live up to an expectation of wisdom."
education  teaching  ehtics  howweteach  wisdom  2015  cathdavidson  timothyburke  liberalarts  constructivism  via:ayjay 
march 2015 by robertogreco
We don’t need more STEM majors. We need more STEM majors with liberal arts training. - The Washington Post
"In business and at every level of government, we hear how important it is to graduate more students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math, as our nation’s competitiveness depends on it. The Obama administration has set a goal of increasing STEM graduates by one million by 2022, and the “desperate need” for more STEM students makes regular headlines. The emphasis on bolstering STEM participation comes in tandem with bleak news about the liberal arts — bad job prospects, programs being cut, too many humanities majors.

As a chemist, I agree that remaining competitive in the sciences is a critical issue. But as an instructor, I also think that if American STEM grads are going lead the world in innovation, then their science education cannot be divorced from the liberal arts.

Our culture has drawn an artificial line between art and science, one that did not exist for innovators like Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs. Leonardo’s curiosity and passion for painting, writing, engineering and biology helped him triumph in both art and science; his study of anatomy and dissections of corpses enabled his incredible drawings of the human figure. When introducing the iPad 2, Jobs, who dropped out of college but continued to audit calligraphy classes, declared: “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing.” (Indeed, one of Apple’s scientists, Steve Perlman, was inspired to invent the QuickTime multimedia program by an episode of “Star Trek.”)

Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, credits her degree in philosophy and medieval history in helping her be the first woman to lead a high-tech Fortune 20 corporation. “If you go into a setting and everybody thinks alike, it’s easy,” she has said. “But you will probably get the wrong answer.”

I became a chemistry professor by working side-by-side at the bench with a number of mentors, and the scholar/mentor relationships I’ve enjoyed were a critical aspect of my science education. And it is the centerpiece of a college experience within the liberal arts environment. For me, it was the key that unlocked true learning, and for my students, it has made them better scientists and better equipped to communicate their work to the public.

Like apprentices to a painter, my students sit with me and plan experiments. We gather and review data and determine the next questions to address. After two to three years of direct mentoring, students develop the ability to interpret results on their own, describe how findings advance knowledge, generate ideas for subsequent experiments and plan these experiments themselves. Seniors train new students in the lab, helping them learn gene recombination techniques that depend on accurate calculations and precise delivery of reagents. Put simply, a microliter-scale mistake can spell disaster for an experiment that took days to complete. And while my students work on these sensitive projects, they often offer creative and innovative approaches. To reduce calculation errors, one of my students wrote a user-friendly computer program to automatically measure replicate volumes. He did this by drawing on programming skills he learned in a computer science course he took for fun. Young people stuck exclusively in chemistry lecture halls will not evolve the same way.

A scientist trained in the liberal arts has another huge advantage: writing ability. The study of writing and analyses of texts equip science students to communicate their findings as professionals in the field. My students accompany me to conferences, where they do the talking. They write portions of articles for publications and are true co-authors by virtue of their contributions to both the experiments and the writing. Scientists are often unable to communicate effectively because, as Cornell University president David J. Skorton points out, “many of us never received the education in the humanities or social sciences that would allow us to explain to nonscientists what we do and why it is important.”

To innovate is to introduce change. While STEM workers can certainly drive innovation through science alone, imagine how much more innovative students and employees could be if the pool of knowledge from which they draw is wider and deeper. That occurs as the result of a liberal arts education.

Many in government and business publicly question the value of such an education. Yet employers in every sector continue to scoop up my students because of their ability to apply cross-disciplinary thinking to an incredibly complex world. They like my chemistry grads because not only can they find their way around a laboratory, but they’re also nimble thinkers who know to consider chemistry’s impact on society and the environment. Some medical schools have also caught on to this. The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine has been admitting an increasing number of applicants with backgrounds in the humanities for the past 20 years. “It doesn’t make you a better doctor to know how fast a mass falls from a tree,” Gail Morris, head of the school’s admissions, told Newsweek. “We need whole people.”

By all means, let’s grow our STEM graduates as aggressively as possible. But let’s make sure they also have that all-important grounding in the liberal arts. We can have both."
liberalarts  stem  education  highered  highereducation  science  engineering  2015  lorettajackson-hayes  humanities  humanism  communication 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Speed Kills: Fast is never fast enough - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"In the past 50 years, two economies that operate at two different speeds have emerged. In one, wealth is created by selling labor or stuff; in the other, by trading signs that are signs of other signs. The virtual assets scale at a speed much greater than the real assets. A worker can produce only so many motorcycles, a teacher can teach only so many students, and a doctor can see only so many patients a day. In high-speed markets, by contrast, billions of dollars are won or lost in billionths of a second. In this new world, wealth begets wealth at an unprecedented rate. No matter how many new jobs are created in the real economy, the wealth gap created by the speed gap will never be closed. It will continue to widen at an ever-faster rate until there is a fundamental change in values.

One of the most basic values that must be rethought is growth, which has not always been the standard by which economic success is measured. The use of the gross national product and gross domestic product to evaluate relative economic performance is largely the product of the Cold War. As the battleground between the United States and the Soviet Union expanded to include the economy, the question became whether capitalism or communism could deliver more goods faster."

"The problem is not only, as Michael Lewis argues in Flash Boys, finding a technological fix for markets that are rigged; the problem is that the entire system rests on values that have become distorted: individualism, utility, efficiency, productivity, competition, consumption, and speed. Furthermore, this regime has repressed values that now need to be cultivated: sustainability, community, cooperation, generosity, patience, subtlety, deliberation, reflection, and slowness. If psychological, social, economic, and ecological meltdowns are to be avoided, we need what Nietzsche aptly labeled a "transvaluation of values."

"The growing concern about the effectiveness of primary, secondary, and postsecondary education has led to a preoccupation with the evaluation of students and teachers. For harried administrators, the fastest and most efficient way to make these assessments is to adopt quantitative methods that have proved most effective in the business world. Measuring inputs, outputs, and throughputs has become the accepted way to calculate educational costs and benefits. While quantitative assessment is effective for some activities and subjects, many of the most important aspects of education cannot be quantified. When people believe that what cannot be measured is not real, education and, by extension society, loses its soul.

Today’s young people are not merely distracted—the Internet and video games are actually rewiring their brains. Neuroscientists have found significant differences in the brains of "addicted" adolescents and "healthy" users. The next edition of the standard Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders will very likely specify Internet addiction as an area for further research. The epidemic of ADHD provides additional evidence of the deleterious effects of the excessive use of digital media. Physicians concerned about the inability of their patients to concentrate freely prescribe Ritalin, which is speed, while students staying up all night to study take Ritalin to give them a competitive advantage.

Rather than resisting these pressures, anxious parents exacerbate them by programming their kids for what they believe will be success from the time they are in prekindergarten. But the knowledge that matters cannot be programmed, and creativity cannot be rushed but must be cultivated slowly and patiently. As leading scientists, writers, and artists have long insisted, the most imaginative ideas often emerge in moments of idleness.

Many people lament the fact that young people do not read or write as much as they once did. But that is wrong—the issue is not how much they are reading and writing; indeed they are, arguably, reading and writing more than ever before. The problem is how they are reading and what they are writing. There is a growing body of evidence that people read and write differently online. Once again the crucial variable is speed. The claim that faster is always better is nowhere more questionable than when reading, writing, and thinking.

All too often, online reading resembles rapid information processing rather than slow, careful, deliberate reflection. Researchers have discovered what they describe as an "F-shaped pattern" for reading web content, in which as people read down a page, they scan fewer and fewer words in a line. When speed is essential, the shorter, the better; complexity gives way to simplicity, and depth of meaning is dissipated in surfaces over which fickle eyes surf. Fragmentary emails, flashy websites, tweets in 140 characters or less, unedited blogs filled with mistakes. Obscurity, ambiguity, and uncertainty, which are the lifeblood of art, literature, and philosophy, become decoding problems to be resolved by the reductive either/or of digital logic.

Finally, vocationalization. With the skyrocketing cost of college, parents, students, and politicians have become understandably concerned about the utility of higher education. Will college prepare students for tomorrow’s workplace? Which major will help get a job? Administrators and admission officers defend the value of higher education in economic terms by citing the increased lifetime earning potential for college graduates. While financial matters are not unimportant, value cannot be measured in economic terms alone. The preoccupation with what seems to be practical and useful in the marketplace has led to a decline in the perceived value of the arts and humanities, which many people now regard as impractical luxuries.

That development reflects a serious misunderstanding of what is practical and impractical, as well as the confusion between the practical and the vocational. As the American Academy of Arts and Sciences report on the humanities and social sciences, "The Heart of the Matter," insists, the humanities and liberal arts have never been more important than in today’s globalized world. Education focused on STEM disciplines is not enough—to survive and perhaps even thrive in the 21st century, students need to study religion, philosophy, art, languages, literature, and history. Young people must learn that memory cannot be outsourced to machines, and short-term solutions to long-term problems are never enough. Above all, educators are responsible for teaching students how to think critically and creatively about the values that guide their lives and inform society as a whole.

That cannot be done quickly—it will take the time that too many people think they do not have.

Acceleration is unsustainable. Eventually, speed kills. The slowing down required to delay or even avoid the implosion of interrelated systems that sustain our lives does not merely involve pausing to smell the roses or taking more time with one’s family, though those are important.

Within the long arc of history, it becomes clear that the obsession with speed is a recent development that reflects values that have become destructive. Not all reality is virtual, and the quick might not inherit the earth. Complex systems are not infinitely adaptive, and when they collapse, it happens suddenly and usually unexpectedly. Time is quickly running out."
speed  health  life  trends  2014  via:anne  marktaylor  filippomarinetti  futurists  futuristmanifesto  modernism  modernity  charliechaplin  efficiency  living  slow  thorsteinveblen  wealth  inequality  values  us  growth  economics  writing  finance  education  highered  highereducation  communication  internet  web  online  complexity  systemsthinking  systems  humanities  liberalarts  stem  criticalthinking  creativity  reflection  productivity  reading  howweread  howwewrite  thinking  schools  schooling  evaluation  assessment  quantification  standardization  standardizedtesting  society  interdisciplinary  professionalization  specialization  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  learning  howwelearn  howwethink  neuroscience  slowness  deliberation  patience  generosity  consumption  competition  competitiveness  subtlety  sustainability  community  cooperation  nietzsche  capitalism  latecapitalism 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Playing the Odds | Easily Distracted
[via: ]

"No academic (I hope) would say that education is required to achieve wisdom. In fact, it is sometimes the opposite: knowing more about the world can be, in the short-term, an impediment to understanding it. I think all of us have known people who are terrifically wise, who understand other people or the universe or the social world beautifully without ever having studied anything in a formal setting. Some of the wise get that way through experiencing the world, others through deliberate self-guided inquiry.

What I would be prepared to claim is something close to something Wellmon says, that perhaps college might “might alert students to an awareness of what is missing, not only in their own colleges but in themselves and the larger society as well”.

But my “might” is a bit different. My might is literally a question of probabilities. A well-designed liberal arts education doesn’t guarantee wisdom (though I think it can guarantee greater concrete knowledge about subject matter and greater skills for expression and inquiry). But it could perhaps be designed so that it consistently improves the odds of a well-considered and well-lived life. Not in the years that the education is on-going, not in the year after graduation, but over the years that follow. Four years of a liberal arts undergraduate experience could be far more likely to produce not just a better quality of life in the economic sense but a better quality of being alive than four years spent doing anything else.

I think I can argue that the disciplinary study of history can potentially contribute to the development of a capacity for empathy, or emotional intelligence, an understanding of why things happen the way that they do and how they might happen differently, and many other crafts and arts that I would associate as much with wisdom as I do with knowledge, with what I think informs a well-lived life. But potential is all I’m going to give out. I can’t guarantee that I’ll make someone more empathetic, not the least because I’m not sure how to quantify such a thing, but also because that’s not something everybody can be or should be counted upon to get from the study of history. It’s just, well, more likely that you might get that than if you didn’t study history.

This sense of “might” even justifies rather nicely the programmatic hostility to instrumentally-driven approaches to education among many humanists. Yes, we’re cultivating humanity, it’s just that we’re not very sure what will grow from any given combination of nutrients and seeds. In our students or ourselves.

This style of feeling through the labyrinth gives me absolutely no title to complacency, however. First, it’s still a problem that increased disciplinary knowledge and skills do not give us proportionately increased probability of incorporating that knowledge into our own lives and institutions. At some point, more rigorous philosophical analyses about when to pull the lever on a trolley or more focused historical research into the genesis of social movements doesn’t consistently improve the odds of making better moral decisions or participating usefully in the formation of social movements.

Second, I don’t think most curricular designs in contemporary academic institutions actually recognize the non-instrumental portion of a liberal-arts education as probabilistic. If we did see it that way, I think we’d organize curricula that had much less regularity, predictability and structure–in effect, much less disciplinarity.

This is really the problem we’re up against: to contest the idea that education is just about return-on-investment, just about getting jobs, we need to offer an education whose structural character and feeling is substantially other than what it is. Right now, many faculty want to have their cake and eat it too, to have rigorous programs of disciplinary study that are essentially instrumental in that they primarily encourage students to do the discipline as if it were a career, justified in a tautological loop where the value of the discipline is discovered by testing students on how they demonstrate that the discipline is, in its own preferred terms, valuable.

If we want people to take seriously that non-instrumental “dark side of the moon” that many faculty claim defines what college has been, is and should remain, we have to take it far more seriously ourselves, both in how we try to live what it is that we study and in how we design institutions that increase the probabilities that our students will not just know specific things and have specific skills but achieve wisdoms that they otherwise could not have found."
education  2014  via:audreywatters  liberalarts  timothyburke  highereducation  wisdom  empathy  openmindedness  ethics  morality  philosophy  history  learning  purpose  humanism  humanities  fiction  literature  society  generalists 
july 2014 by robertogreco
The Miseducation of America - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"While I was watching Ivory Tower, a documentary about the state of college in America that appears in select theaters this month (the movie also airs on CNN this fall), it occurred to me that of the many problems with higher education these days, not the least concerns the way we talk about it. "Efficiency," "art-history majors," "kids who graduate with $100,000 in debt," "the college bubble," the whole rhetoric of crisis and collapse: The public discourse is dominated by sound bites, one-liners, hearsay, horror stories, and a very great deal of misinformation.

Higher ed is not unique in this respect, of course, but it is particularly bad. College, as the movie points out, was always treated as a black box: 18-year-olds were inserted at one end, 22-year-olds came out the other, and as long as the system appeared to be working, no one bothered to inquire what happened in between. Americans, as a result, have very little understanding of what college is about—how it works, what it’s for, what larger social benefits it offers—and those employed in higher education have had very little practice in explaining it to them. The debate has been left to the politicians, the pundits, and increasingly, the hustlers and ideologues. Few who talk about college in public understand it, and few who understand it talk about it.

Ivory Tower, for the most part, is an honorable exception."

"Ivory Tower shows us why it’s so important that we get this right: that we think with facts, with respect to college costs and what they get you, not emotions. When we cherry pick the scariest stories and numbers, we do two things: We open the door to hucksters selling easy answers, and we forget what college is really for. Apocalypticism leads to messianism. Close behind the anxious parents whom we see on college tours at Wesleyan and NYU—variously blithe or glum adolescents in tow—come, like vultures to a kill, a pair of now-familiar figures: Peter Thiel and Sebastian Thrun."

"The truth is, there are powerful forces at work in our society that are actively hostile to the college ideal. That distrust critical thinking and deny the proposition that democracy necessitates an educated citizenry. That have no use for larger social purposes. That decline to recognize the worth of that which can’t be bought or sold. Above all, that reject the view that higher education is a basic human right.

The film recounts the history and recent fate of that idea: its origin among the philanthropists of the industrial age, figures like Peter Cooper, founder of his eponymous Union; its progressive unfolding through the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862, the GI Bill of 1944, the postwar expansion of the University of California, and the Higher Education Act of 1965, which created the federal student-loan and grant programs; and its deliberate destruction under Ronald Reagan and his ideological heirs.

Free, high-quality higher education (just like free, high-quality school, which we continue to at least pretend to endorse): that is what we used to believe in; that’s what many other countries still believe in; that is what we must believe in once again. The filmmakers undoubtedly knew what they were doing when they chose to show us the moment, during that seminar at Deep Springs, when the students are debating Hegel’s proposition that, as their professor puts it, "you need to have a common identity as citizens, because it creates the bonds of affection." Or in Delbanco’s words, "What kind of society do we want to be?" Cooper Union’s commencement speaker, that tumultuous spring of 2013, turns out to have been none other than Michael Bloomberg. "The debate you’re having really isn’t about whether education is free," we see him tell the students. "It’s really about who can and who is willing to pay for it."

On this the billionaire and I agree. In terms of the "can" (and it’s hard to believe the word could even pass his lips), the answer is clear. Not just the plutocrats, not just the upper class, but the upper middle class, as well. Everybody knows by now that the share of national income that accrues to the famous one percent has risen to about 23 percent, higher than at almost any time since 1928. But the share that accrues to the top 10 percent as a whole, which stayed around 33 percent from the 1950s through the 1970s, has risen to its highest level ever (or at least, since record-keeping started), more than 50 percent. In a $17-trillion economy, the difference represents a premium of nearly $3-trillion a year, about five times the federal deficit and more than enough for this and many other public purposes.

The problem of costs, to be sure, is not a one-way street. Higher education must indeed increase efficiency, but how? Institutions have been willing to spend on everything in recent years except the thing that matters most: instruction. Dorms, deans, sports, but not professors. Piglike presidential salaries, paid for by hiring adjuncts. Now, with MOOCs and other forms of online instruction, the talk is more of the same. My friends, they are coming for you. The professoriate no longer has the luxury of thinking that all this is someone else’s problem. If you want to save your skins, let alone ensure the future of the enterprise, you need to wake up and organize against the people who are organizing against you. The fact is that by focusing exclusively on monetary issues, the current conversation prevents us not only from remembering the higher objectives of an undergraduate education, but also from recognizing just how bad a job our institutions have been doing at fulfilling them. Colleges and universities have a lot to answer for; if they want to regain the support of the larger society, they need to prove that they are worthy of it.

Ivory Tower ends, in the manner of such films today, by referring us to a website. Under the rubric "Take Action," the site encourages us to sign a petition that calls on Congress to pass legislation, of the kind proposed by Elizabeth Warren (and just blocked by Senate Republicans), allowing individuals to refinance their student loans. That would certainly be a good thing, but we need to set our sights a great deal higher. If service workers can demand a $15 minimum wage, more than double the federal level, then those who care about higher education can insist on the elimination of tuition and fees at state institutions and their replacement by public funding furnished by taxes on the upper 10 percent. As with the minimum wage, the campaign can be conducted state by state, and it can and should involve a large coalition of interested groups: students, parents, and instructors, to start with. Total enrollment at American colleges and universities now stands at 20 million, on top of another million-plus on the faculty. That’s a formidable voting bloc, should it learn to exercise its power. Since the Occupy movement in 2011, it’s clear that the fight to reverse the tide of growing inequality has been joined. It’s time we joined it."
2014  williamderesiewicz  highered  highereducation  education  policy  politics  finance  money  studentloands  ivorytower  reform  faculty  solidarity  ows  occupywallstreet  inequality  purpose  canon  funding  publicfunding  mooc  moocs  unions  labor  deepspringscollege  colleges  universities  liberalarts  society  learning  criticalthinking  uncollege  dalestephens  peterthiel  sebastianthrun  peterschiff  efficiency  cooperunion  communitycolleges  debt  studentdebt  employment 
june 2014 by robertogreco
School’s Out Forever – The New Inquiry
"Education has become the way to talk about class and labor in an American political system that is profoundly uncomfortable with both. In the hands of reformist technocrats, inequality is a matter of nuanced social engineering rather than a conflict between two unequal and opposed sides – those who profit and those who only work. If society wanted to reduce the growing discrepancy between rich and poor, we would worry less about tweaking the educational system and simply pay or give the poor more money. Marsh writes, “Given the political will, whether through redistributive tax rates, massive public works projects, a living wage law, or a renaissance of labor unions, we could decrease poverty and inequality tomorrow regardless of the market or the number of educated and uneducated workers.”

Although Marsh takes the reader back to historical junctions when choosing such paths toward a more equal country seemed possible — like President Johnson’s war on poverty or President Nixon’s proposal for a national income — those days are long gone. As Governor Walker’s successful move against public unions in Wisconsin shows, organized labor’s fight for survival isn’t conducive to winning higher wages. Marsh is not optimistic about the likelihood of an American labor renaissance; the best outcome he can imagine is that we might hold the debate about class and wealth distribution in undisguised terms. “We ought to acknowledge the limited but nevertheless real role education plays in providing individual economic opportunity and may play in generating national economic growth,” he writes, “At the same time, we should seek to make education more of an end it itself and less of a means toward some other end.”

While Marsh uses all his considerable analytical prowess to dispel the myth of class mobility through education, he accepts the conventional wisdom about the “true” purposes of education without a second look. If schools can’t solve society’s economic problems, he suggests, then they should focus on what they can do. Citing Thomas Jefferson through Christopher Lasch, Marsh offers only these two possibilities: “To give everybody the intellectual resources — particularly the command of the language — needed to distinguish truth from public lies” and “to train scholars, intellectuals, and members of learned professions.”

A school system devoted to those two goals wouldn’t make the country more equal, but it might restore English professors like Marsh to their former glory. He writes, “The liberal arts might regain the stature their inevitably central locations on campus indicate they once had. How much better for students’ souls — for their future happiness — to have studied the humanities or some branch of the liberal arts?” Putting aside the supposed strength of the correlation between majoring in literature and happiness, the answer to “How much better for their souls?” isn’t graphable. But being an English professor means never questioning the transcendent impact of your own thought on others."

"Just like the aberrational student elevated out of poverty through education, the exceptional teacher who can impact a student’s soul provides a flawed justification for a system which fails to provide anything of the sort on a larger scale. The hope is that every student has a teacher or two over a decade and a half that really makes them question and think, but either way, we silently acknowledge that they’ll spend the majority of their young vigor-filled lives quivering at the arbitrary mercy of petty kooks and jowly tyrants. Schools train students in what business professor Stefano Harney says every diploma really proves: “that the student can follow arbitrary authority, endure boredom, and compete against others.” Classrooms, tellingly, are usually depicted in popular culture as excruciatingly boring. Teachers post Calvin and Hobbes cartoons about the soul-crushing banality of compulsory attendance on the classroom walls. In TV shows and movies about young people, class time is depicted only so that it can be interrupted by something more important — whether it’s whispered gossip, singing montages, or vampire slaying. Or, à la Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, class is so awful as to be a self-explanatory joke.

With the economic logic ripped apart, the only reasoning Marsh presents for keeping students in the prison/school for 12 to 16 years is that their souls might benefit from compulsory membership in a gerontocratic book club, even if we have to put a sizable proportion of them on amphetamines for it to work. This isn’t coincidental, it’s prefigurative, a determining sneak-peek at the adults they’ll become. High schools and colleges knowingly teach and enable the Adderall-seeking behavior that graduates will need to compete in the work world — that is if they don’t have standing prescriptions from elementary school. When a sixth-grader isn’t paying attention in class because he’s too busy clenching his knees together so as not to piss his pants before the bell rings, he’s not learning to be a better citizen or intellectual, he’s learning to be a better prisoner, employee, or soldier.

One of Marsh’s most suggestive comparisons is the number of striking workers against the number of new college admittances over time. Although the lines crossed long ago, the juxtaposition suggests the classroom is only one possible choice in pursuing a better life, and not necessarily the best one. Elsewhere around the world, young people try to construct better lives for themselves outside the classroom, as in Spain and Greece, where students fight against the austerity and increasing economic inequality Marsh fears, or in Egypt or Tunisia where revolution is not to be confused with an SAT-prep company. Using expert knowledge no teacher could have inculcated, young hackers risk jail to expose public falsehoods and build solidarity with peers overseas by fucking around on the internet. They’re not willing to leave the problems of their inherited world for moribund labor unions or withering socialist parties. Students in America could try a different kind of strike based on what’s occurred in Cairo and Athens — out of the classroom and into the streets. And how much better would that be for their future happiness, how much better for their souls?"
2011  education  schools  schooling  schooliness  learning  labor  unions  economics  solidarity  capitalism  corporatization  unschooling  deschooling  teaching  authority  conformity  conditioning  clavinandhobbes  poverty  inequality  malcolmharris  johnmarsh  politics  class  classmobility  socialmobility  policy  edreform  why  tyranny  control  supression  liberalarts  opportunity  corporatism 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Wendell E. Berry Lecture | National Endowment for the Humanities
[via: ]

"“Because a thing is going strong now, it need not go strong for ever,” [Margaret] said. “This craze for motion has only set in during the last hundred years. It may be followed by a civilization that won’t be a movement, because it will rest upon the earth.
E. M. Forster, Howards End (1910)1"

"The economic hardship of my family and of many others, a century ago, was caused by a monopoly, the American Tobacco Company, which had eliminated all competitors and thus was able to reduce as it pleased the prices it paid to farmers. The American Tobacco Company was the work of James B. Duke of Durham, North Carolina, and New York City, who, disregarding any other consideration, followed a capitalist logic to absolute control of his industry and, incidentally, of the economic fate of thousands of families such as my own.

My effort to make sense of this memory and its encompassing history has depended on a pair of terms used by my teacher, Wallace Stegner. He thought rightly that we Americans, by inclination at least, have been divided into two kinds: “boomers” and “stickers.” Boomers, he said, are “those who pillage and run,” who want “to make a killing and end up on Easy Street,” whereas stickers are “those who settle, and love the life they have made and the place they have made it in.”2 “Boomer” names a kind of person and a kind of ambition that is the major theme, so far, of the history of the European races in our country. “Sticker” names a kind of person and also a desire that is, so far, a minor theme of that history, but a theme persistent enough to remain significant and to offer, still, a significant hope.

The boomer is motivated by greed, the desire for money, property, and therefore power. James B. Duke was a boomer, if we can extend the definition to include pillage in absentia. He went, or sent, wherever the getting was good, and he got as much as he could take.

Stickers on the contrary are motivated by affection, by such love for a place and its life that they want to preserve it and remain in it. Of my grandfather I need to say only that he shared in the virtues and the faults of his kind and time, one of his virtues being that he was a sticker. He belonged to a family who had come to Kentucky from Virginia, and who intended to go no farther. He was the third in his paternal line to live in the neighborhood of our little town of Port Royal, and he was the second to own the farm where he was born in 1864 and where he died in 1946."

"Because I have never separated myself from my home neighborhood, I cannot identify myself to myself apart from it. I am fairly literally flesh of its flesh. It is present in me, and to me, wherever I go. This undoubtedly accounts for my sense of shock when, on my first visit to Duke University, and by surprise, I came face-to-face with James B. Duke in his dignity, his glory perhaps, as the founder of that university. He stands imperially in bronze in front of a Methodist chapel aspiring to be a cathedral. He holds between two fingers of his left hand a bronze cigar. On one side of his pedestal is the legend: INDUSTRIALIST. On the other side is another single word: PHILANTHROPIST. The man thus commemorated seemed to me terrifyingly ignorant, even terrifyingly innocent, of the connection between his industry and his philanthropy. But I did know the connection. I felt it instantly and physically. The connection was my grandparents and thousands of others more or less like them. If you can appropriate for little or nothing the work and hope of enough such farmers, then you may dispense the grand charity of “philanthropy.”

After my encounter with the statue, the story of my grandfather’s 1906 tobacco crop slowly took on a new dimension and clarity in my mind. I still remembered my grandfather as himself, of course, but I began to think of him also as a kind of man standing in thematic opposition to a man of an entirely different kind. And I could see finally that between these two kinds there was a failure of imagination that was ruinous, that belongs indelibly to our history, and that has continued, growing worse, into our own time."

"It may seem plausible to suppose that the head of the American Tobacco Company would have imagined at least that a dependable supply of raw material to his industry would depend upon a stable, reasonably thriving population of farmers and upon the continuing fertility of their farms. But he imagined no such thing. In this he was like apparently all agribusiness executives. They don’t imagine farms or farmers. They imagine perhaps nothing at all, their minds being filled to capacity by numbers leading to the bottom line. Though the corporations, by law, are counted as persons, they do not have personal minds, if they can be said to have minds. It is a great oddity that a corporation, which properly speaking has no self, is by definition selfish, responsible only to itself. This is an impersonal, abstract selfishness, limitlessly acquisitive, but unable to look so far ahead as to preserve its own sources and supplies. The selfishness of the fossil fuel industries by nature is self-annihilating; but so, always, has been the selfishness of the agribusiness corporations. Land, as Wes Jackson has said, has thus been made as exhaustible as oil or coal."

"In such modest joy in a modest holding is the promise of a stable, democratic society, a promise not to be found in “mobility”: our forlorn modern progress toward something indefinitely, and often unrealizably, better. A principled dissatisfaction with whatever one has promises nothing or worse.

James B. Duke would not necessarily have thought so far of the small growers as even to hold them in contempt. The Duke trust exerted an oppression that was purely economic, involving a mechanical indifference, the indifference of a grinder to what it grinds. It was not, that is to say, a political oppression. It did not intend to victimize its victims. It simply followed its single purpose of the highest possible profit, and ignored the “side effects.” Confronting that purpose, any small farmer is only one, and one lost, among a great multitude of others, whose work can be quickly transformed into a great multitude of dollars."

"Statistical knowledge once was rare. It was a property of the minds of great rulers, conquerors, and generals, people who succeeded or failed by the manipulation of large quantities that remained, to them, unimagined because unimaginable: merely accountable quantities of land, treasure, people, soldiers, and workers. This is the sort of knowledge we now call “data” or “facts” or “information.” Or we call it “objective knowledge,” supposedly untainted by personal attachment, but nonetheless available for industrial and commercial exploitation. By means of such knowledge a category assumes dominion over its parts or members. With the coming of industrialism, the great industrialists, like kings and conquerors, become exploiters of statistical knowledge. And finally virtually all of us, in order to participate and survive in their system, have had to agree to their substitution of statistical knowledge for personal knowledge. Virtually all of us now share with the most powerful industrialists their remoteness from actual experience of the actual world. Like them, we participate in an absentee economy, which makes us effectively absent even from our own dwelling places. Though most of us have little wealth and perhaps no power, we consumer–citizens are more like James B. Duke than we are like my grandfather. By economic proxies thoughtlessly given, by thoughtless consumption of goods ignorantly purchased, now we all are boomers."

"In this age so abstracted and bewildered by technological magnifications of power, people who stray beyond the limits of their mental competence typically find no guide except for the supposed authority of market price. “The market” thus assumes the standing of ultimate reality. But market value is an illusion, as is proven by its frequent changes; it is determined solely by the buyer’s ability and willingness to pay."

"By now all thoughtful people have begun to feel our eligibility to be instructed by ecological disaster and mortal need. But we endangered ourselves first of all by dismissing affection as an honorable and necessary motive. Our decision in the middle of the last century to reduce the farm population, eliminating the allegedly “inefficient” small farmers, was enabled by the discounting of affection. As a result, we now have barely enough farmers to keep the land in production, with the help of increasingly expensive industrial technology and at an increasing ecological and social cost. Far from the plain citizens and members of the land-community, as Aldo Leopold wished them to be, farmers are now too likely to be merely the land’s exploiters."

"In thinking about the importance of affection, and of its increasing importance in our present world, I have been guided most directly by E. M. Forster’s novel, Howards End, published in 1910. By then, Forster was aware of the implications of “rural decay,”10 and in this novel he spoke, with some reason, of his fear that “the literature of the near future will probably ignore the country and seek inspiration from the town. . . . and those who care for the earth with sincerity may wait long ere the pendulum swings back to her again.”"

"“The light within,” I think, means affection, affection as motive and guide. Knowledge without affection leads us astray every time. Affection leads, by way of good work, to authentic hope. The factual knowledge, in which we seem more and more to be placing our trust, leads only to hope of the discovery, endlessly deferrable, of an ultimate fact or smallest particle that at last will explain everything."

"No doubt there always will be some people … [more]
wendellberry  capitalism  corporations  economy  imagination  stickers  boomers  2012  economics  land  place  memory  industrialists  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  culture  art  liberalarts  humanism  humanity  rural  farming  history  debt  affection  knowledge  materialism  howardsend  emforster  ruraldecay  agriculture  aldoleopold  environmentalism  environment  sustainability  destruction  destructiveness  local  scale  mobility  change  adaptability  adaptation  evolution  ecology  technology  machines  alberthoward  wesjackson  johnlukacs  growth  data  quantification  wealth  remoteness  jamesbduke  industialism  power  greed  consumerism  plannedobsolescence  nature  corporatism  allentate  property  ownership  effectiveownership  human  humans  limits  limitations  modesty  democracy  wallacestegner  via:markllobrera  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  babyboomers  control 
september 2013 by robertogreco
NEH Project
Black Mountain College existed for a mere 24 years. In that short time this small experimental college in the Appalachian Mountains just outside of Asheville, North Carolina produced a legacy that makes it central to American culture in multiple ways. While often thought of as an art school, in actuality the arts were considered an important aspect of an overarching liberal arts education emphasizing the broader area of the humanities. From the centrally important teachers such as John Andrew Rice, Josef Albers and Charles Olson through other important figures such as Robert Creeley, Mary Caroline (M.C.) Richards, Buckminster Fuller, and John Cage, to the important students such as Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Francine du Plessix Gray, Arthur Penn, Dorothea Rockburne, Jonathan Williams, and Suzi Gablik, Black Mountain College influenced American culture through advances in educational practice, the visual and performing arts as well as literature. Not only was it an experiment in education, but it also was an experiment that was modeled by John Andrew Rice upon the work of the foremost philosopher of education at the time, John Dewey. Combined with the Dewey's influence was the cutting-edge modernist tradition of Europe’s most famous art and design school, the Bauhaus.

Black Mountain College: An Artistic and Educational Legacy will address the fascinating history of the college through presentations by experts in the field as well as experiential workshops and field trips all designed to deepen and enrich the study of this innovative college."

[See also the reading list: and
the suggested readings:]
bmc  blackmountaincollege  2011  readinglists  johnandrewrice  johndewey  josefalbers  charlesolson  robertcreeley  marycarolinerichards  arthurpenn  dorothearockburne  jonathanwilliams  suzigablik  francineduplessixgray  cytwompbly  robertrauschenberg  education  arteducation  liberalarts  pedagogy  bauhaus 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Art Teaching for a New Age - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
[NB: Tagging this one Black Mountain College and BMC, not because it is references in the text, but that it reminds me of BMC.]

[Also related, in my mind: and ]

"The technological changes we are witnessing will not threaten conceptual rigor or craft, nor will the ease of expression and communication make art obsolete. But these shifts are changing what we mean by art making and what counts as meaningful, crafted expression. To say so is not to judge the quality of that expression or to lament the rise of vulgarity or the lowering of standards. It is simply to observe that this democratization of expression will alter fundamentally how students—aspiring artists—think about art, its meaning and purpose, and the ways in which it is made.

These shifts will also change the professions for which educational institutions like mine prepare students. After all, if technology becomes smart enough to make design decisions, then designers could increasingly become technicians, operators of machines instead of creative professionals. But the more profound—and less visible—impact will be on how students think about their creative pursuits.

We cannot say with certainty what that impact will be. The first generation of so-called digital natives is reaching college only now; the environment they grew up in—which seemed so radical and new to many of us just a decade and a half ago—is already a punchline. Soon it will be an antiquated joke that doesn't even make sense anymore. Remember AOL? Remember plugging in to access the Net? Today's students don't.

They arrive at college having shot and edited video, manipulated photographs, recorded music—or at least sampled and remixed someone else's—designed or assembled animated characters and even virtual environments, and "painted" digital images—all using technologies readily available at home or even in their pocket. The next generation of students will have designed and printed three-dimensional images, customized consumer products, perhaps "rapid-prototyped" new products—I can't imagine what else.

Students today are not simply bombarded by images, consuming them in great gulps, as previous generations did; they are making the environments they inhabit, and making meaningful connections among images, stories, mythologies, and value systems. They are creative and creating.

But their notion of what it means to create is different from ours. It's something one does to communicate with others, to participate in social networks, to entertain oneself. Making things—images, objects, stories—is mundane for these students, not sacred. It's a component of everyday experience, woven tightly into the fabric of daily life.

So what is the task of arts educators? Is it to disabuse these young people of what we think are their misconceptions? Is it to inculcate in them an understanding of the "proper" way to create, to make art or entertainment? Is it to sort out the truly artistic from the great mass of creative chatterers—and to initiate them into some sacred tradition?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Or maybe the task of the educator is to help them develop judgment, to help them to see that creating, which they do instinctively, almost unconsciously, is a way of learning, of knowing, of making arguments and observations, of affecting and transforming their environment. And perhaps that's not so very different from what we do now.

We do it now, though, in the context of a curriculum and institutional histories oriented toward specific professional training and preparation. We seek to develop in students the critical faculties needed to thrive in clearly defined professions. But in the future, we may have to rethink our purpose and objectives. We may have to reimagine our curricula, recast the bachelor-of-fine-arts degree as a generalist—not professional—degree.

In a media-saturated culture in which everyone is both maker and consumer of images, products, sounds, and immersive experiences like games, and in which professional opportunities are more likely to be invented or discovered than pursued, maybe the B.F.A. is the most appropriate general-education experience, not just for aspiring artists and designers but for everyone.

That poses challenges for arts educators. We are good at equipping students who are already interested in careers in art and design with the skills and judgment necessary to succeed in artistic fields and creative professions that are still reasonably well defined. We are less good at educating them broadly, at equipping them to use their visual acuity, design sensibility, and experience as makers to solve the problems—alone or in collaboration with others—that the next generation of creative professionals may be called on to solve. These will be complex problems that cross the boundaries of traditional disciplines, methodologies, and skill sets—ranging from new fields like data visualization, which draws on graphic design, statistical analysis, and interaction design, to traditional challenges like brand development, which increasingly reaches beyond logos on letterhead to products and environments.

To do that, arts colleges would have to reorganize their curricula and their pedagogy. Teaching might come to look a lot more like what we now call mentorship or advising. Rather than assume that young people know what they want to do and that we know how to prepare them to do it, we would have to help them to explore their interests and aspirations and work with them to create an educational experience that meets their needs.

Curricula would not be configured as linear, progressive pathways of traditional semester-long courses, but would consist of components, such as short workshops, online courses, intensive tutorials, and so forth. Students would pick and choose among components, arranging and rearranging them according to what they need at a particular moment. Have a problem that requires that you use a particular software program? Go learn it, to solve that problem or complete that project. Want to pursue a traditional illustration-training program? Take multiple drawing and painting studios.

Linking all of this together would not be a traditional liberal-arts curriculum but what one faculty member at the University of the Arts has called a liberal art curriculum—one focused on design as problem solving, on artistic expression as the articulation and interrogation of ideas. Instead of an arts-and-sciences core curriculum separate and disconnected from studio instruction, we would build a new core that integrates the studio and the seminar room, that envisions making and thinking not as distinct approaches but as a dynamic conversation.

This fantasy of an alternative arts education—which resembles experiments that other educators have attempted in the past—begins to veer into utopianism, though, and a vague utopianism at that. It would be impossible to administer and to offer to students cost-effectively. And most students would probably find it more perplexing than liberating.

But I see an urgent need for new models that respond to the changing conditions affecting higher education—models that can adapt to conditions that are in constant flux and to an emerging sensibility among young people that is more entrepreneurial, flexible, and alert to change than our curricula are designed to accommodate.

We need an educational structure that takes instability and unpredictability as its starting point, its fundamental assumption. If a university is not made up of stable, enduring structures arranged linearly or hierarchically—schools, departments, majors, minors—but rather is made up of components that can be used or deployed according to demand and need, then invention instead of convention becomes the governing institutional dynamic."
arteducation  art  education  expression  artisticexpression  internet  web  making  unpredictability  uncertainty  liberalarts  generalists  specialists  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  multimedia  lcproject  tcsnmy  tcsnmy8  ncmideas  openstudioproject  2013  seanbuffington  teaching  learning  criticalthinking  problemsolving  communication  bfa  mfa  highered  highereducation  generaleducation  curriculum  altgdp  design  craft  internetage  medialiteracy  media  newmedia  rapidprototyping  projectbasedlearning  bmc  blackmountaincollege  pbl 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Deep Springs College and the Liberal Arts Ideal
"In order to understand what “is suited to the education of a free person,” we need to first know what freedom amounts to. At the core of Nunn’s conception of freedom is self-governance, for he views freedom and self-government in obedience to law as one and the same. He recognizes that on the face of it this doesn’t make sense. How can obedience be synonymous with freedom?

To understand this it will help to contrast the fee person with the slave. The free person lives in free society with others. Free societies can be small and large, ranging from, for example, the small association of students at Deep Springs, to the state government of Pennsylvania or the government of the United States of America. When people live in society with one another they choose to establish laws governing the conduct of their members, for the maintenance and flourishing of the society as a whole, and they curtail their own rights, for the benefit of the common good.

Slavery, like freedom, requires society. Unlike freedom, which is participation in society, however, slavery is subjugation to it. The slave does not choose to enter into society with others, but is coerced into obeying orders out of fear. Both the slave and the free person recognize and respect the law, but they do so in extremely different ways. The free person wills the law, takes responsibility for it, and has her part in determining it. The slave submits to it and is bound by it in servitude.

At the individual level, Nunn thinks that we find a situation analogous to that of the free person and the slave at the social level. He thinks there are laws governing our right conduct, laws of morality that we can all be aware of through our good common sense. We can rebel against these and instead follow our personal inclinations, desiring our own pleasure and our own gain, at the expense of others. Such intemperance, according to Nunn is the mark of poor self-governance. When we follow our good judgment, will our action in accord with it, and take responsibility for this action, however, then he thinks we govern ourselves well individually.

Now in a free society, the authority of the body politic derives from each individual’s choice to enter into that society. Accordingly, the authority of the society is in part vested in it from each of its members, and in respecting its authority the members are indirectly respecting their own authority over themselves. In this way, when a free person respects the laws of their free society, they are engaged in a further form of self-government."

"The main difference between my years at Deep Springs and those spent elsewhere perhaps is just this: life there was simpler. It was simpler because it was preparatory. It was about surveying the space of possibilities, laying foundations, and getting one’s bearings. This was mostly an internal process. It was about getting one’s heart in order. And while this process couldn’t happen alone, in isolation, it could happen in a relatively simple, small community of fifty or so people, largely cut off from the mad complexity of life in the real world and of what our future lives in that world would be. The tremendous privilege that Deep Springs students receive is, then, just two years in this simple space in which they can orient themselves and prepare for the complexities of life to come."
deepspringscollege  time  simplicity  education  lcproject  tcsnmy  tcsnmy8  learning  liberalarts  llnunn  life  well-being  self-governance  democracy  democraticschools  democratic  alternative  service  servicelearning  selflessness  community  labor  freedom  liberty  society  slavery  authority 
march 2013 by robertogreco
The Saxifrage School - Higher Ed Innovation Laboratory
"The Saxifrage School is a higher education laboratory working to lower costs, re-think the campus, and reconcile disciplines."

"While we continue our work as a laboratory for new ideas, we are dreaming big about the future. This video describes our early concept for founding a full-fledged college here in Pittsburgh."

"At the core of the Saxifrage School model is our nomadic campus. We're re-thinking the traditional campus model to better serve students, the economy, and our neighborhoods."

"Deconstructing higher education is a large and complex undertaking, but we have a great sense of urgency for our work. Here are a few of the reasons why we are working to change the future of higher education."

"Extending the liberal arts to include technical skills, the academic philosophy of The Saxifrage School is centered on productive inquiry. Our goal is to educate the full person by reuniting the making of things and the judging of ideas into one educative process that closely attends to the real problems of today’s world. We strive to reconcile theory and practice and preserve their integrity by valuing the creative utility of each. The Saxifrage School will host a tight academic community that weaves into local organizations, creating a dynamic resource network that will serve students and neighbors alike. Graduates of the Saxifrage School will leave as seasoned thinkers, skilled producers, engaged citizens, and capable agents of change."

[Video: ]
[Blog: ]
[Via: via Randall Szott ]
saxifrage  pittsburgh  pennsylvania  education  highereducation  cityasclassroom  learning  schools  spanish  lcproject  well-being  purpose  liberalarts  via:randallszott  local  nomadiccampus  highered  deepspringscollege 
march 2013 by robertogreco
MSU expert has surprising advice about liberal arts degrees, job hunting | Bridge Michigan
"I think there is still value in the liberal arts. Companies on the East and West coasts are hiring a new kind of a professional that we don’t hear as much about in the Midwest.

IBM has gone from manufacturing to a systems, problem-solving approach in its business. Thirty-five percent of its people have social science and humanity degrees. They’re not all engineers and computer scientists.

Companies like IBM are looking for people who have mastered a discipline, have strong communication skills and skill sets that allow them to work across boundaries. Those are liberal arts skills.

Liberal arts also provide a lot of creativity and advancements in communications that spread to other areas of the university. We’ll lose that if we eliminate the liberal arts. We need to be careful what wish for."
2013  liberalarts  philgardner  education  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  hiring  interdisciplinary  postdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  generalists  learning 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Liberal Education, Stewardship, and the Cosmopolitan Temptation | Front Porch Republic
"When speaking of the proper care for the natural world, the word that best describes our efforts is stewardship. Stewards are care-takers. They lovingly guide, protect, and cultivate that which is under their care. In the language of stewardship the concepts of indebtedness, gratitude, love, and responsibility all find their proper places. But it is not only in the context of the natural world that the concept of stewardship has meaning. When we examine the topic of liberal education the idea of stewardship is indispensable. For as inheritors of a civilization, we are its stewards. And because the gifts of civilization are tender plants requiring constant nourishment, our task as stewards requires perseverance, courage, and, ultimately, faith that succeeding generations will take up the mantle when we are no longer able to bear it.

It is, in the end, impossible seriously to engage the great tradition without cultivating the habit (or is it the art?) of attention. Tocqueville notes that the habit of inattention is the greatest vice of democracy. This vice is exponentially more pervasive in an age where email, text messaging, Tweets, and YouTube are only a click away. Learning to attend carefully is, perhaps, one of our culture’s greatest needs. Paying attention requires self-control. We must learn to listen before we speak and think before we act. These habits are essential for self-government.

But with all this, there is at the heart of much writing about liberal education a sort of cosmopolitan temptation that, ultimately, does a disservice to the concept of stewardship. When proponents of liberal education describe it as the attempt to grasp the whole, they are partially right, but if we do not continue with the acknowledgment that the whole is grasped via particulars and that, as human creatures, we necessarily inhabit only a small and particular part of the whole, we are missing something crucial.

If a liberal education teaches a person to love abstraction, to relish the exchange of universal ideas of justice, charity, and beauty, yet to be inattentive to the neighbor down the street or the beauty of a well-tended garden, then something has gone wrong. Such an education is suited to abstract beings who naturally belong in no particular place and have none of the senses by which particular beauty or empathy can be experienced. Such an education is, in other words, not fit for human beings.

In other words, a liberal education should teach students how to be human beings and how to live in some particular place. If a course of education cultivates a hatred for home, it has failed. If it cultivates a dissatisfaction with the local, particular, and the provincial in favor of distant, abstract places where cosmopolitanism drowns out the loveliness and uniqueness of local customs, practices, stories, and songs, then the education has failed. To be well-educated is to be educated to live well in a particular place. It is to acknowledge the creatureliness of one’s existence and thereby to recognize our many debts of gratitude and the scale proper to a human life. A successful liberal education cultivates stewards who are disposed to love their places and who are equipped to tend them well."

[via: ]
liberaleducation  democracy  liberalarts  2009  via:randallszott  cosmopolitanism  stewardship  gratitude  love  responsibility  civilization  sustainability  humanism  attention  tocqueville  self-control  self-government  local  slow  small  abstraction  justice  charity  beauty  global  glocal 
march 2013 by robertogreco
The New Liberal Arts and the Old | The American Conservative
"A student well-versed in the intellectual traditions of the liberal arts would also know better than to make a claim about the intellectual liveliness of the average business presentation that is belied by the constant complaints of people in the business world itself. Such a student would be self-critical, self-aware, and both willing and able to imagine how his or her arguments are likely to be received by an informed audience."
liberalarts  newliberalarts  2012  alanjacobs  michaelstaton  education  highereducation  highered  business  purpose  learning  communication  criticalthinking  jobpreparation  training 
january 2013 by robertogreco
A moment of dreaming about higher education – The New Inquiry
"The work of self-cultivation that students do—when they learn language, learn to paint, learn to design and build, learn to socialize, and learn everything else that they learn—all eventually pays massive social dividends. A capitalist society like ours does not function if the state doesn’t educate its citizenry…There is nothing more blind to itself than a huge government which has enshrined “small government” as its ruling philosophy, and which exists only by spending tax dollars and but believes it can be against both taxes and spending."

"if we can see outside the frame of cultivation and pleasure, we can see that producing a mass population with all sorts of apparently superfluous skills—engineers that read novels and writers that know calculus—is a better society than one in which all human activity is reduced to pure utility, and bare recreation."
work  labor  highered  highereducation  aaronbady  society  learning  moocs  politics  capitalism  self-cultivation  liberalarts  government  smallgovernment  us  california  uc  2013  education  mooc  universityofcalifornia 
january 2013 by robertogreco
Whither the Liberal Arts College? Or, Why Bloom’s Critique Doesn’t Matter | Front Porch Republic
"The hallmarks of these places are professionalization and specialization, and in the process they lose sight of the one (truly liberal) question that would help make an education coherent: the question of what it is to be a human being."

"as they become more specialized and professionalized in their internal functioning, they encourage the development of a faculty who are invested in not raising the larger questions about the purpose of education, and a student- body who will increasingly mimic this professionalization and specialization in pursuit of a well- paying job."

"…Not understanding leisure, neither can we understand work"

[via: ]
gilmeilander  stanleyfish  allanbloom  us  militaryindustrialcomplex  cronycapitalism  authority  virtue  highereducation  highered  universities  colleges  jeantwenge  sherryturkle  josephpieper  alastairmacintyre  comfort  jeffreypolet  2012  capitalism  society  community  slowlearning  education  learning  slowness  slow  work  labor  leisurearts  leisure  values  purpose  living  life  sensemaking  meaningmaking  generalists  liberalarts  humanism  professions  professionalization  artleisure 
october 2012 by robertogreco
Who Killed the Liberal Arts? | The Weekly Standard
I was never more than a peripheral character, rather more like a tourist than a student, at the University of Chicago. Yet when I left the school in 1959, I was a strikingly different person than the one who entered in 1956. What had happened? My years there allowed me to consider other possibilities than the one destiny would appear to have set in grooves for me. I felt less locked into the social categories—Jewish, middle-class, Midwestern—in which I had grown up, and yet, more appreciative of their significance in my own development. I had had a glimpse—if not much more—of the higher things, and longed for a more concentrated look.

Had I not gone to the University of Chicago, I have often wondered, what might my life be like? I suspect I would be wealthier. But reading the books I did, and have continued to throughout my life, has made it all but impossible to concentrate on moneymaking in the way that is required to acquire significant wealth. Without the experience of the University of Chicago, perhaps I would have been less critical of the world’s institutions and the people who run them; I might even have been among those who do run them. I might, who knows, have been happier, if only because less introspective—nobody said the examined life is a lot of laughs—without the changes wrought in me by my years at the University of Chicago. Yet I would not trade in those three strange years for anything.
bloggable  via:ayjay  liberalarts 
september 2012 by robertogreco
New Tools for Men of Letters
"The new graphic arts devices are, I believe, capable of working the other way—as implements for a more [p.180] decentralized and less professionalized culture, a culture of local literature and amateur scholarship.

This possibility is especially important today, when electric power promises to develop the village at the expense of the metropolis, and when shorter working hours offer a prospect of leisure to a population of which an increasing proportion is being exposed to college education.

Today the Western scholar’s problem is not to get hold of the books that everyone else has read or is reading but rather to procure materials that hardly anyone else would think of looking at.

Western civilization now expects even poetry to fit the Procrustean bed of the publishing industry.

The art of conversation, with its counterpart the dialogue [p.186] as a literary form for presenting ideas, has also declined since the days of Galileo, while the art of advertising has advanced.


[So much more, but another reaction: academics will always hope everyone is more like them.]
poetry  printing  duplication  microfiche  microfilm  near-print  micro-copying  books  photo-offset  learning  decentralization  professionalization  wpa  greatdepression  dialog  conversation  letterwriting  letters  ruricomp  rural  local  localstudies  academics  academia  research  writing  amateurresearch  amateurism  literature  graphicarts  liberalarts  leisurearts  leisure  education  community  publishing  microformats  mimeograph  media  technology  communication  scholarship  digitalhumanities  1935  robertbinkley  dialogue  artleisure 
june 2012 by robertogreco
The threat to our universities | Books | The Guardian
"In talking to audiences outside universities (some of whom may be graduates), I am struck by the level of curiosity about, and enthusiasm for, ideas and the quest for greater understanding, whether in history and literature, or physics and biology, or any number of other fields…

Such audiences do not want to be told that we judge the success of a university education by how much more graduates can earn than non-graduates, any more than they want to hear how much scholarship and science may indirectly contribute to GDP. They are, rather, susceptible to the romance of ideas and the power of beauty; they want to learn about far-off times and faraway worlds; they expect to hear language used more inventively, more exactly, more evocatively than it normally is in their workaday world; they want to know that, somewhere, human understanding is being pressed to its limits, unconstrained by immediate practical outcomes."
values  knowledge  understanding  aspiration  aspirations  aspirationalselves  uk  colleges  universities  outcomes  practicality  wonder  ideas  beauty  philosophy  idealism  2012  purpose  liberalarts  curiosity  learning  highereducation  education  stefancollini 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Tools for Living - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"What makes this story even more poignant is its setting: at sibling colleges founded by monasteries, where self-sufficiency and sustainability were once a central ethic, as outlined in the Rule of St. Benedict. The Benedictine women and men here, along with many of the older alumni, can still remember when they milked cows, plucked chickens, and picked potatoes grown on the monasteries' surrounding land. Bread, furniture, preserved food, ceramics, and other daily necessities were produced by monks, sisters, and students on the campuses. While some remnants of that life still exist, much of it is gone."
living  life  sustainability  farmwork  collegoftheozarks  handsonlearning  learning  cooking  doing  making  practicalskills  warrenwilsoncollege  deepspringscollege  scottcarlson  2012  backtothefuture  liberalarts  universities  colleges 
february 2012 by robertogreco
The New Atlantis » Science and the Decline of the Liberal Arts
"Finally, a restored liberal education would not be a liberation from “the ancestral” or from nature, but rather an education in the limits that culture and nature impose upon us — an education in living in ways that do not tempt us to Promethean forms of individual or generational self-aggrandizement. Particularly in an age in which we are becoming all too familiar with the consequences of living solely in and for the present, when too many among us are failing to live within our means — whether financially or environmentally — we would be well served to restore the proper understanding of liberty: not as liberation from constraint, but rather, as a capacity to govern ourselves. Such self-governance, as commended by ancient and religious traditions alike, makes possible a truer form of liberty — liberty from enslavement to our appetites, and from those appetites’ destructive power."

[via: ]
2009  philosophy  economics  liberty  liberalarts  liberaleducation  liberation  liberalism  multiversity  self-aggrandizement  colleges  universities  highereducation  highered  engineering  history  humanities  science  education  academia  patrickdeneen 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Ian Bogost - Beyond the Elbow-Patched Playground
"There's a place for potted plants. Every practice has to spend time reflecting on itself and reorienting. There's nothing wrong with importing solutions from the outside, from which there is always much to be learned. But the lower faculties must resist the temptation to partake of daily life only just enough to mine convenient resources into makeshift parapets. It's not a cowardly move nor a treacherous one, but it's not a courageous nor a righteous one either. The digital humanities must decide if they are potting their digital plants in order to prettify the office, or to nurture saplings for later transfer into the great outdoors. Out there, in the messy, humid world of people and machines, it's better to cast off elbow patches for shirt-sleeves."
tools  ianbogost  2011  liberalarts  academia  humanities  digitalhumanities 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Our Universities: Why Are They Failing? by Anthony Grafton | The New York Review of Books
"Christopher Newfield is not the only sober, informed observer who believes that political elites are deliberately attacking middle-class education.

Perhaps it’s not a crisis. After all, as many observers have pointed out, this is the way we live now, and room remains for exceptions and for hope. Still, the dark hordes of forgotten students who leave the university as Napoleon’s army left Russia, uninspired by their courses, wounded in many cases by what they experience as their own failures, weighed down by their debts, need to be seen and heard. Perhaps some of those who write seriously about universities could stop worrying so much about who gets into Harvard, Yale, and Princeton and start worrying about the much larger numbers who don’t make it through Illinois and West Virginia, Vermont and Texas…"
education  colleges  universities  history  highereducation  highered  2011  anthonygrafton  naomischaeferriley  benjaminginsberg  jeromekarabel  christophernewfield  williambowen  matthewchingos  michaelmcpherspon  richardarum  josiparoksa  anthonykronman  nancyfolbre  higheredbubble  society  class  academia  teaching  learning  liberalarts  humanities  money  policy  institutions 
november 2011 by robertogreco
The American Scholar: The Disadvantages of an Elite Education - William Deresiewicz
"Being an intellectual begins with thinking your way outside of your assumptions and the system that enforces them. But students who get into elite schools are precisely the ones who have best learned to work within the system, so it’s almost impossible for them to see outside it, to see that it’s even there."

"What happens when busyness & sociability leave no room for solitude? The ability to engage in introspection…is the essential precondition for living an intellectual life, and the essential precondition for introspection is solitude…one of them said, with a dawning sense of self-awareness, “So are you saying that we’re all just, like, really excellent sheep?” Well, I don’t know. But I do know that the life of the mind is lived one mind at a time: one solitary, skeptical, resistant mind at a time. The best place to cultivate it is not within an educational system whose real purpose is to reproduce the class system."

Also here in this issue: ]
williamderesiewicz  2008  via:jeeves  highered  highereducation  learning  unschooling  deschooling  liberalarts  class  perpetuation  criticalthinking  skepticism  resistance  institutions  intellectualism  introspection  solitude  cv  self-awareness  conformism  elites  power  control  racetonowhere  purpose  vision  education  colleges  universities  lapham'squarterly 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Can Antioch College Return From the Dead Again? -
"…the college’s first president, Horace Mann, the Massachusetts-born education reformer, instilled a spirit of moral resolve that has lingered ever since. At the 1859 commencement, just weeks before he died, Mann exhorted that year’s Antioch graduates: “I beseech you to treasure up in your hearts these my parting words. Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity…

Yet Antioch College has been on shaky financial ground for its entire existence. Four times — in 1863, 1881, 1919 and 2008 — it has had to close. Next month, it will reopen again…

…in the summer of 2008 they joined six or so Antioch professors in founding a sort of Antioch College in exile called the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute.

The core of what we need to deliver, I’d argue, is intimacy: quality teaching from quality teachers you get to form a deep relationship with."
antiochcollege  horacemann  2011  precarity  democraticschools  education  highereducation  liberalarts  nonstopliberalartsinstitute  nonstopliberalarts  highered  learning  relationships  humanism  humanity  purpose  activism  ohio  2008 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Bless the toolmakers « Snarkmarket
So much here in Robin's post and the comments that I'm not going to quote anything. Lots to think about.
tools  apple  pixar  arts  art  robinsloan  snarkmarket  creativity  creation  media  freemandyson  roolmaking  liberalarts  lasting  building  software  design  writing  timcarmody 
september 2011 by robertogreco
Want a job? Major in liberal arts: Technology firms need more than science and math skills
""This Is Your Brain on the Internet" [class]…strips down fundamentals of learning in order to come up w/ better principles designed to help students think interactively, creatively, cross-culturally & collaboratively.

…read sci fi novels & written hypertext versions of them…spent week working w/ Chinese choreographer to learn to improvise w/out a common language…worked w/ video game designer using scissors & construction paper to prototype game…passed evening w/ science writer who lets them "hear" the world as if thu his own cochlear implants…

How do you test skills this curriculum is meant to sharpen?…midterm exam…students had 24hrs to choose, write & answer a question as a group that best summarized the first half of class. 17 of them, signing off on one coherent, final essay, posted on a public website before midnight—w/ failure for all the potential consequence.

These are the kinds of skills the humanities majors of the future are learning…mix technology & communication…"
cathydavidson  education  classideas  learning  questioning  questions  inquiry  teaching  liberalarts  technology  2011  collaboration  creativity  interactivity  communication  humanities  cv  toshare  stem  curriculum  infosystems  information  informationscience  language  business  stevejobs  problemsolving  perspective  empathy 
september 2011 by robertogreco
The Genius of Steve Jobs: Marrying Tech and Art -
"But one look at the Mac & you could tell something was different. The white screen alone seemed revolutionary, after years of reading green text on a black background. And there were typefaces! I had been obsessed with typography since my grade-school years; here was a computer that treated fonts as an art, not just a clump of pixels. The then-revolutionary graphic interface made the screen feel like a space you wanted to inhabit, to make your own. To paraphrase Le Corbusier, the Mac was a machine you wanted to live in.

Before long I was creating page layouts for student-run philosophy journals; I designed research tools using the visionary Hypercard application…

Looking back now, I realize that beneath all those surface obsessions, a theme was running through my interests like an underground river, & it didn't fully surface until my mid-20s: the sense that the most fertile and engaging space in our culture lay at the intersection between new technology and the humanities."
design  technology  art  apple  history  2011  stevejobs  stevenjohnson  mac  humanities  digitalhumanities  liberalarts  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  memories 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google, condemns British education system | Technology | The Guardian
""Over the past century, the UK has stopped nurturing its polymaths. You need to bring art and science back together."…

"It was a time when the same people wrote poetry and built bridges," he said. "Lewis Carroll didn't just write one of the classic fairytales of all time. He was also a mathematics tutor at Oxford. James Clerk Maxwell was described by Einstein as among the best physicists since Newton – but was also a published poet."

Schmidt's comments echoed sentiments expressed by Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple, who revealed this week that he was stepping down. "The Macintosh turned out so well because the people working on it were musicians, artists, poets and historians – who also happened to be excellent computer scientists," Jobs once told the New York Times."
ericschmidt  stevejobs  technology  science  polymaths  generalists  well-rounded  education  art  uk  2011  math  mathematics  teaching  learning  creativity  innovation  lewiscarroll  jamesclerkmaxwell  alberteinstein  isaacnewton  apple  poets  historians  newliberalarts  liberalarts  digitalhumanities  computers  computerscience  compsci 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Debating the Value of College in America : The New Yorker
"…students majoring in liberal-arts fields—sci, social sci, & arts & huma—do better on CLA, show greater improvement, than students majoring in non-lib-arts fields such as business, education & social work, communications, engineering & comp sci, & health…more likely to take courses w/ substantial amounts of reading & writing…attend selective colleges…students who score lowest & improve least are business majors."

"Professor X…“I have come to think that 2 most crucial ingredients in mysterious mix that makes a good writer…1…having read enough…to have internalized rhythms of written word…2…refining ability to mimic those rhythms.”…read a lot of sentences…start to think in sentences…then you can write sentences…Someone who has reached age 18/20 & has never been reader is not going to become writer in 15 weeks. Otoh…not a bad thing for such a person to see what caring about “things that probably aren’t that exciting to most people” looks like. A lot of teaching is modelling."
education  culture  teaching  us  business  liberalarts  professorx  louismenand  colleges  universities  selectivity  learning  writing  books  thewhy  criticalthinking  democracy  meritocracy  cla  money  economics  vocational  pedagogy  highereducation  highered  2011 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Faulty Towers: The Crisis in Higher Education | The Nation
"…leadership will have to come from somewhere else, as well. Just as in society as a whole, the academic upper middle class needs to rethink its alliances. Its dignity will not survive forever if it doesn’t fight for that of everyone below it in the academic hierarchy. For all its pretensions to public importance…the professoriate is awfully quiet, essentially nonexistent as a collective voice. If academia is going to once again become a decent place to work, if our best young minds are going to be attracted back to the profession, if higher education is going to be reclaimed as part of the American promise, if teaching and research are going to make the country strong again, then professors need to get off their backsides and organize: department by department, institution to institution, state by state and across the nation as a whole. Tenured professors enjoy the strongest speech protections in society. It’s time they started using them."
education  culture  teaching  politics  economics  highereducation  highered  hierarchy  society  voice  speakingout  2011  williamderesiewicz  colleges  universities  labor  gradschool  money  efficiency  markets  fairness  inequality  inequity  disparity  academia  liberalarts 
may 2011 by robertogreco
more than 95 theses — Very important essay by Stanley Fish
"There are of course some people — some blessed few — who have the judgment to pursue their own educational path. But in my experience there are far more people who think they have that discernment than actually possess it. I have had too many former students come back to tell me how little they knew in comparison to what they thought they knew; and again and again I see people following career paths (and personal paths) that they never could have imagined in those days when they were perfectly sure that they knew where they were going. A key task of liberal education is to give people intellectual tools that they can use on any path they happen to travel."
liberalarts  education  alanjacobs  stanleyfish  youth  knowledge  wisdom  colleges  universities 
december 2010 by robertogreco
I Want My Twitter TV! | Fast Company
""Turns out, not everyone wants to use Twitter on television the same way," Sladden says. "Revenge of the liberal-arts majors" might be the best way to describe the method that the media team uses to help partners figure out how best to use Twitter. "Robin will lead a design-oriented brainstorm session to try to tease out in their own words what that relationship will be and what that creative potential is," Sladden says. "It's anthropology, learning their tribal language. It's better when it's native to you, but you can crack the code if you listen, ask good questions, and care enough to understand.""
cloesladden  robinsloan  rosshoffman  twitter  media  tv  television  2010  fastcompany  socialmedia  entertainment  convergence  newliberalarts  liberalarts  anthropology  listening 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Frank Chimero — Design must be free, because it is a liberal art for all, while at the same time it is the craft and trade of a few.
"If design is visual communication, it should be treated as such: as a means for people to transmit what they think, what they feel, and as a way to amplify their message, whatever that may be. Teaching people about design in no way nullifies the value of designers, much in the same way that teaching someone to write does not dismiss the value of the work of Shakespeare, an essayist at the New Yorker, or a copywriter. Learning to write teaches us to organize thought and how to communicate with one another. I believe design can do the same when taught at a mass scale. [quote here] I guess what I’m saying is that an understanding by the masses doesn’t negate the value of the specialists. Or, more simply: if we think it’s important, let’s teach everyone."
education  design  democracy  communication  typography  frankchimero  liberalarts  newliberalarts  understanding  thinking  appreciation  designappreciation 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Dean Shareski: Personalization vs. Standardization: It's Tough To Do Both
"current system & structure fights personalized learning w/ nearly every new policy & protocol it can generate…system craves standardization while we desperately need customization. These competing ideals butt heads constantly & for those teachers who do believe in personalizing learning, they live in perpetual frustration...In the end, w/out restructuring of time & current curriculum requirements best we can hope for is small pockets of success or the 0.02% of students whose passion happens to be trigonometry or Shakespeare…

While I'm busy advocating for changes that might support an education that fuels & fosters students' passions, I worry that we lose sight of what a liberal education is all about. They don't know what they don't know. Providing students w/ broad experiences that invites them to develop a variety of skills, understand & appreciate diverse perspectives & potentially uncover hidden talents & interests speaks to a fairly well accepted purpose of school..."
deanshareski  education  standardization  learning  schools  teaching  customization  liberalarts  policy  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  onesizefitsall  change  restructuring  personalization  tcsnmy  instruction  exams  standardizedtesting 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Views: The 20-Something Dilemma - Inside Higher Ed
"rigid scripting of childhood & adolescence has made young Americans risk- & failure-averse. Shying away from endeavors at which they might not do well, they consider pointless anything w/out clear application or defined goal. Consequently, growing numbers of college students focus on higher ed’s vocational value at expense of meaningful personal, experiential, & intellectual exploration. Too many students arrive at college committed to pre-professional program or major they believe will lead directly to employment after graduation; often they are reluctant to investigate unfamiliar or “impractical”, a pejorative typically used to refer to liberal arts…Ironically, in rush to study fields w/ clear career applications, students may be shortchanging themselves. Change now occurs more rapidly than ever before & boundaries separating professional & academic disciplines constantly shift, making flexibility & creativity of thought that a lib arts education fosters a tremendous asset…"

[via: ]
education  learning  liberalarts  humanities  highered  demographics  childhood  adolescence  unschooling  vocational  training  colleges  universities  whatmatters  flexibility  tcsnmy  riskaversion  risk  failure  risktaking  experience  experiential  experientiallearning  exploration  whatdoiwanttodowithmylife  2010  parenting  youth  life  lcproject  deschooling 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Black Mountain College Project
"The mission of the Black Mountain College Project is to ensure that the history and influence of Black Mountain College are preserved and documented for future generations. The Project was formed with the conviction that the story of this unique educational experiment is of lasting interest and that the memories of those who taught and studied at Black Mountain College are critical to an understanding of the dynamics and accomplishments of that community."
blackmountaincollege  liberalarts  history  education  design  art  archive  architecture  academia  journalism  documentation  bmc 
september 2010 by robertogreco
The University Bookman — A Patron Saint of Teachers
"But this is the point I want to make here. College is to be what it is, a “liberal,” that is, “freeing,” education. And education means that we seek to know (and see and hear and taste and feel) what is. To do this, we must free ourselves. And we free ourselves by encountering the myriads of particular things amid which we live and whose ultimate cause of being we wonder about.

One does not come to college to learn something, unless he comes to learn everything. That is its real adventure and the only real justification for freeing ourselves for four years from the busy things that storm about us from every side and for which alone we are told, falsely, that we exist. We cannot, in the end, help but wonder whether Charlie enjoyed the music even if he knew what it was. It is not a sin both to enjoy it and know who wrote it. This is what second semester is about.

Saint Cassian of Imola, Pray for Us."
via:lukeneff  education  teaching  college  colleges  universities  liberalarts  learning  curiosity 
august 2010 by robertogreco
So Simple, So Very Simple | ATTACKERMAN
"Like Wall Street recruiters, TFA recruiters are “really in your face & make it very easy.”...they soothe anxieties of lib-arts majors w/ 1 hand by promising that no prior substantive exp is necessary, while w/ other hand feed Ivy elitism by promising recruits they are uniquely qualified...both emphasize skills recruits will learn for rest of careers—ability to navigate system—at least as much as what they’re actually going to do for 2 yrs, & whom it will affect.
us  policy  economics  recruiting  tfa  schools  education  wallstreet  ivyleague  liberalarts  experience  elitism  teachforamerica 
may 2010 by robertogreco
McSweeney's Internet Tendency: The Only Thing That Can Stop This Asteroid is Your Liberal Arts Degree. FAQ
"I need someone with four years of broad-but-humanities-focused studies, three subsequent years in temp jobs, and the ability to reason across multiple areas of study. ... Sure, you've never even flown a plane before, but with only ten days until the asteroid hits, there's no one better to nuke an asteroid.
mcsweeneys  liberalarts  humor  education  humanities  satire  academia  parody  science  writing 
may 2010 by robertogreco
More Like Us — Meredith Jung-En Woo, Dean of Arts & Sciences and Buckner W. Clay Professor
"there is perhaps something to the argument that we as a nation have become excessively focused on credentials...I sometimes discern this tendency in the steadily upward trend in multiple majors over the past decade. The requirements for more than one major can be strenuous, crowding out the flexibility for students to venture out to new fields, experiment in ways that push the limits of knowledge. In the College, we offer some 3000 course sections, & I wonder whether something essential is lost when students trade in a broad liberal arts curriculum in order to satisfy the new requirements for an additional credential.

Regardless of whether students graduate with one major or two, it remains a fact that our educational system is the best in the world...our best comparative advantage. It keeps foreign students flocking to our shores, especially from Asia. In the long run, these students will, in one way or another, be more like us, and I think they will be better for it."
credentials  liberalarts  education  creativity  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  generalists  interdisciplinary  unschooling  deschooling  specialization  competition  japan  us  highered  colleges  universities  innovation  tcsnmy  jamesfallows  davidhalberstam  exams  testing  messiness  disorder  individualism  can-doattitude  1980s  1990s  meredithjung-enwoo  specialists 
april 2010 by robertogreco
New School: How the Web Liberalized Liberal Arts Education | GOOD
"This is where neo-education steps in—not necessarily as a substitute for a university degree, at least not at this point, but as a necessary filler for the many gaps in today’s higher education, an essential exercise in flexing our inherent human curiosity about the world before it atrophies into the narrow scope of skill and vision that the original liberal arts model aimed to eradicate in the first place. In an age driven by the cross-pollination of ideas, viewpoints, and disciplines, it is only through such indiscriminate curiosity and exploration that we can truly liberalize our collective future."
education  academia  teaching  web  liberalarts  cyberculture  activism  ted  arts  socialmedia  technology  internet  free  change  autodidacts  unschooling  deschooling  curiosity  tcsnmy  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Hilobrow | Middlebrow is not the solution [via:]
"Thousands of people have participated in a forum that seems to transcend the idea of the “book club” entirely—the result looks more like a crowdsourced, massively parallel postgraduate seminar. But no, that’s not it either; trappings of institutional learning like “postgraduate” & “seminar” don’t really have a place here. Infinite Jest’s complexity, its author’s pixillated, autodidactic, logorrhoeic condition, make it very hard to teach. But these same qualities, with its flowing, braided links to film, tennis, fractals, logic, & recovery, as well as a score of other topics, make it an enormously productive imaginal space in which to cultivate the kind of wide-ranging, splintering discussion that is native to the web...liberal arts are at their heart not a profession or a civic medicine but a disposition. The institutions of the life of the mind are in a bad way—& they always have been!...the life of the mind isn’t really about institutions, is it?"
infinitejest  infinitesummer  newliberalarts  humanities  liberalarts 
september 2009 by robertogreco
New Liberal Arts [.pdf]
"It's 2009. A generation of digital natives is careening towards college. The economy is rebooting itself weekly. We have new responsibilities now—as employees, citizens, and friends—and we have new capabilities, too. The new liberal arts equip us for a world like this. But... what are they?" [see also:]
culture  alternative  books  liberalarts  literacy  education  colleges  universities  snarkmarket  filetype:pdf  media:document 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Is College Worth It? - John Lounsbury -- Seeking Alpha [commentary on and summary of:]
"My father asked me why I wanted to go to college. My answer, essentially, was that I wanted to make money. His rejoinder was that I did not have a valid reason. Making money was not a good reason to go to college, he told me."..."thought provoking statements from the article: *Degrees are poor proof of learning. *Literacy levels among college graduates, the commission noted, fell sharply over the 12 years ending in 2003. *The system must change before students are made poorer, society grows less equal, the bright are left ignorant & "college" comes to mean a 4-year pajama party intruded upon by the occasional group discussion on gender studies. *The four-year college degree has come to cost too much and prove too little. It's now a bad deal for the average student, family, employer, professor and taxpayer. *bright citizens spend their lives not knowing the things they ought to know, because they've been granted liberal-arts degrees for something far short of a liberal-arts education."
colleges  universities  money  costs  learning  effectiveness  education  alternative  liberalarts 
june 2009 by robertogreco
Liz Coleman's call to reinvent liberal arts education | Video on
"Bennington president Liz Coleman delivers a call-to-arms for radical reform in higher education. Bucking the trend to push students toward increasingly narrow areas of study, she proposes a truly cross-disciplinary education -- one that dynamically combines all areas of study to address the great problems of our day."
colleges  universities  liberalarts  education  learning  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  politics  design  society  future  ethics  lizcoleman  reform  change  gamechanging  expertise  specialization  specialists  generalists  lcproject  tcsnmy  skepticism  overspecialization  knowledge  academia  policy  unschooling  deschooling  benningtoncollege  transdisciplinary 
june 2009 by robertogreco
21st-Century Talk | LFA: Join The Conversation - Public School Insights
"It’s certainly risky to treat the 21st-century as if it required an entirely new set of rules. Such thinking can deaden us to centuries of human achievement. But we shouldn’t dismiss all the 21st-century talk as mere rhetoric. In fact, such talk offers advocates for the liberal arts an important opportunity to stress their relevance in trying times."

[via: ]
education  21stcenturyskills  liberalarts 
march 2009 by robertogreco
…My heart’s in Accra » Liz Coleman reinvents liberal arts education
"Coleman challenges us with the idea that “liberal arts education no longer exists.” The liberal arts no longer provides the breath of knowledge and capacity for civic engagement we count on it to provide. This is why educators in the former Soviet Union looked to liberal arts as the model to rebuild their educational system after the fall of communism. But liberal arts is in crisis. The expert has dethroned the generalist. “Expertise has its moments, but the price of its dominance is enormous.” Subjects are broken into smaller pieces, with an emhpasis on the technical and obscure. This, combined with the idea that neutrality is a condition of academic integrity creates an environment that’s toxic if we try to connect education and public good."

[See also: ]
ethanzuckerman  lizcoleman  highereducation  liberalarts  education  learning  society  politics  colleges  universities 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Snarkmarket: What Are the New Liberal Arts?
"But what are the emergent liberal arts — liberal arts 2.0? I think the best way to think about this is not to think of the “new” liberal arts as supplanting the “old,” but as a complementary set, like painting, architecture, and sculpture as the new, humanist plastic arts during the Renaissance. Like the trivium and quadrivium, we have the octet of “modern” liberal arts and a set of newer concerns. With that proviso in mind, here is my fairly conservative attempt at a list:" See also:
liberalarts  education  learning  academia  kottke  trends  knowledge  lcproject  colleges  universities 
february 2009 by robertogreco
"1. An academic has and wants an audience disproportionately made up of teachers and students, while an intellectual has and wants teachers and students in his audience only in proportion to their place in the general educated public. 2. An academic is a specialist who has disciplined his curiosity to operate largely within a designated area, while an intellectual is a generalist who deliberately does otherwise. 3. An academic is concerned with substance and suspicious of style, while an intellectual is suspicious of any substance that purports to transcend or defy style."

"Tenured faculty, the aristocracy of the university, have been disgracefully complicit in the creation of an academic helot class to subsidize their own upper-middle-class salaries, but the helots are progressively replacing the aristocrats as the latter retire and are replaced by helots rather than by other aristocrats. What is being phased out, in short, is the very career which tenured faculty once enjoyed and to which new Ph.D.s still vainly aspire.(5) This career, although it included teaching, was not narrowly confined to teaching in the way that the work of adjunct faculty is narrowly confined -- indeed brutally reduced -- to teaching. For a while to come, some of the many aspiring professors who enter the academic labor market each year will find tenure-track positions and be awarded tenure in due course. More, however, will fail to obtain tenure or even to be hired for a tenure-track position. Barring a labor movement of unprecedented scope, the less talented among them will then sink into academe's permanent underclass, while the more talented will leave academe and seek other employment."

"To return to my premise, if the role of academics in the preservation and propagation of liberal learning is shrinking as the liberal arts are crowded out of the university curriculum, then either the role of intellectuals -- men and women of humane learning whose gainful occupation is not teaching -- will grow, or the humane tradition will slide further into decline. If and when that compensatory growth comes about, however, there may come with it a number of now only poorly predictable changes.

As academe eliminates the liberal arts, institutions and forms of organization that are now secondary will become primary by academe's default. Peter Drucker does not predict that university libraries, museums, databases, and computer networks will be gone in thirty years when the university as we know it is gone. But if their likely survival throws their importance into relief, it does so as well for kindred institutions that have never been under university auspices at all: endowed research libraries, independent museums of various kinds, and the many voluntary associations and working groups that the Internet already makes possible. Already, a scholar in search of an out-of-the-way, out-of-print book may have better luck with, which offers "nine million used, antiquarian and rare books, periodicals and ephemera offered for sale by thousands of booksellers around the world" than with a local university library, even a large one. Whether or not venture capital invested in online education succeeds in capturing much of the revenue flow that now sustains traditional colleges and universities, the Internet stands ready as a monastery-on-demand for the dark age after the Rome that is the academic establishment has fallen. When Rome fell, the Roman Empire did not vanish. Its separate parts lived on in other forms. So it could be for the campus liberal arts empire: When it falls, it too will not vanish but live on as its separate parts assume other forms.

Academics are farmers. They have fields, and they cultivate their fields well. Intellectuals are hunters. An intellectual does not have a field but a quarry which he pursues across as many fields as necessary, often losing sight of it altogether. Hunters cannot replace farmers, or vice versa; but if liberal learning in America, hitherto mostly a farm culture, becomes progressively a hunt culture, there will surely be consequences. By the standards of farmers, what hunters do seems reckless and undisciplined, but hunting has its own interior logic, the logic of an agenda that is individually rather than collectively determined.

One cannot easily be either a farmer or a professor by avocation. The strength of these vocations is that they demand full commitment. Mirroring their strength, their great vulnerability is their inability effectively to reward and sustain partial commitment. By contrast, one may rather easily be a hunter or an intellectual by avocation. Like hunters, who join the chase when they can and leave it when they must, sharing the kill with the tribe when they are successful, so intellectuals study when they can and stop when they must, seeking ever to please themselves but sharing their intellectual pleasure, when they write, with their readers.

The agricultural revolution did not occur for no reason. Hunters are more likely to go hungry than farmers. If academics, reliably supported by their universities, are succeeded by intellectuals, only unreliably supported by the work they pick up here and there, the post- and extra-academic humanities will often go hungry and homeless. But hunting does not differ from farming only by being more hazardous and less reliable. Off campus, the liberal arts may, at least on occasion, enjoy a wild adventure and an extraordinary feast. Only time will tell -- but less time, if present trends continue, than we might think."
society  learning  education  culture  teaching  gradschool  intellectualism  academia  curiosity  dilettante  cv  generalists  jackmiles  publicintellectuals  labor  capitalism  corporatism  us  policy  helots  liberalarts  intellectuals  1999  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  inequality  tenure  specialists  humanities 
january 2005 by robertogreco

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