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October 22, 2005

What Do We Not Know?

And how much is it worth to know it anyway?

Tim Burke still sends a decent amount of traffic my way, and while I'm not sure he supports trackbacks, I ought to reciprocate. He concludes:

The cost of higher education worries me enormously. It appears unsustainable as well as unjust. It is aggravating a problem that is somewhat separate in its causal underpinnings, the increasing degree to which universities are exacerbating the reduction of economic and social mobility in the United States. But I’m not sure what to do about it. I think at the least that some of the people most aggravated about it are going to need to get real about what it is that they’re asking for: curricula that are pared down radically to what external funders judge valuable and thus heavily biased to technical subjects with immediate professional payoffs, and institutions with few if any meaningful services beyond education. It would be interesting, at any rate, to see an institution of higher learning built on those principles start up in this marketplace, at least one that wasn’t built around online education, and see how it fares (and just how low it could get tuition).

There is a certain difficulty to be found in attempts to rise above your station via intellect. If a society is not shaped by a fairly restrained idea of intellectual merit, then you end up with the equivalent of tens of millions of monkeys on their respective typewriters. And who is to say which of them is approaching Shakespeare?

This started out to be a thoughtful post, but I've downshifted because of some other recent matters. I'll pick it up if you do.

Posted by mbowen at October 22, 2005 06:07 PM

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