[iDC] Doing away with universities?

Trebor Scholz trebor at thing.net
Mon Feb 13 14:42:11 EST 2006

Critique is can be productive and is very necessary. I am all in favor
of an awareness of the weakness that institutions carry in their bones.
If you read some of my recent rants it should be abundantly clear that I
do think that there is a crisis. What I caution against is an *all-out

I don't doubt the least that you have a unique perspective. And many
people on this list know a thing or two about (media) education and have
an international overview. But perhaps we need to acknowledge our
relative complicity as part of such critique?  Sure, there are people
who act stultifying to creative action in the university. Yes, there are
people who do little and are paid reasonably well (depending on your
choice of comparison). And then there are people who work very hard and
are extremely dedicated. I see many examples of the latter. Just like in
other work contexts.

>I believe it is important to share an experience-base that is 
>somewhat unique.  That's one reason I teach.

I admire that and agree that formal education is not everything. Each
person can contribute their specific set of experiences. The University
of Phoenix is on the most extreme end of the spectrum. They really make
making money a sport. I'm also very skeptical of their e-learning
programs (for the very most part at least). 

>Any place where humans can engage f2f in open connection is precisely 
>a breeding ground.  

Human encounters are central. Then there are details such as expensive
hardware and trained staff to realize complex technical projects. As I
said in my previous post- I do not think that universities are the only
places where this can happen.  I agree that institutions shape us. In my
personal interaction with my grad students grades don't play a big role.
I also don't really care about maintaining some kind of hierarchy, which
occasionally confuses students who need a lot (top-down) structure.
Ideally we are fellow learners. And there are many institutions in the
US don't give grades btw.  The question of biography and personal choice
is not a problem at all. But I think that it should be  mentioned as
part of the critique. We should reflect the extent to which we are part
of what we reject so much.

Keep up the good work.


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