- With regard to your adherence to the ways of bygone analog days, it does you no favors. It hurts you more and more the more you adhere to it. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
- If you are willing to change your expectations of what constitutes academic work, we’ll be able to change our expectations of you.
- We want to help you change the world, ostensibly the goal of education writ large. But you’re going to have to change with us.
- Ends are achievable by different means.
Below is an excerpt of an essay I wrote for Flyover Geeks. Read the whole thing here.
As the (very) unofficial higher-education reporter for Flyover Geeks, I’ve said a lot about college, what’s wrong with it, some of its good bits, and how it needs to change. The first piece I published here was about the dangers of corporatism, and the soul-sucking nature of “good jobs” in large companies. As a general rule, a minuscule proportion of complainers ever do something about what bothers them; whether their action is to a stand and fight to change a broken system, or leave such systems entirely, most just don’t. And that, more than anything else, depresses me.
FG Reader, whoever you are, this is not another sardonic article from Jason Rowley. Consider it a mini manifesto. I want you to reclaim yourself.
Doesn’t it seem a little irrational, this subsumption of personal happiness beneath… what, exactly? I challenge you, especially if you work a corporate job (which I’m not denigrating, I just think you could do better), to answer this question: why would you ever, ever do something for any extended period of time if, in the morning, you couldn’t upon waking leap from your bed and say, as Gary Vaynerchuk might suggest and say of each new day that you are going to CRUSH IT!!!! with four exclamation points?
Read the whole thing here.
Today, as I was looking at my Twitter feed, a message seized my attention.
#UChicago University announces increases in education cost and financial aid for 2011-12 http://bit.ly/eVmpcY
— UChicago News (@uchicagonews) March 21, 2011
Apparently, according to the article, “The total cost of undergraduate education for the 2011-12 school year will be $55,416; of that amount, tuition is $41,853, and the remaining $13,563 is for room, board and fees.” To which I responded by shooting warm coffee out my nose, as I laughed.
Now, I don’t want to reveal too much about my current writing projects, but one of them is an essay about the coming crisis in higher education. My thesis, that a credit crunch in student loan markets will precipitate the collapse of that $1.25 trillion asset pool, which will in turn preclude otherwise bright and eager high school students from attending decent colleges because of financial issues, is, I admit, a little alarmist. But today’s news release from my college reveals a different, and significantly more troubling scenario.
But first, some facts: Continue reading “College Tuition: LOL! WTF?”
“Being labeled ‘correct’ or ‘true’ is very. uhhh, pre-postmodern. You know better than to make such judgments. Now, I suppose, one could only call someone ‘legitimate’. It’s not the same thing. So, it seems, my goal is not to be objectively, verifiably correct; instead, it suffices to merely speak and/or write as though what I’m saying is true. The verity of my message is irrelevant: verity is a romantic myth. It suffices to sound as though I know what I’m talking about, you know, to seem smart, or whatever. Today, seeming precedes being.”
Such is the life of a student. In the coming 168 hours, I have to write more than 40 pages. One of the papers, about the future of the intellectual in the age of the blog, is worthy of publication on The Halcyon Days, but the others are exceedingly, brutally dry. They are, like certain cuts of meat, too tendinous and gristly for human consumption. I feel kind of bad for the underpaid graduate students forced to grade this stuff. At least mine’s grammatically correct.
For the next week, activity on HD will be minimal.
Now for some quotes. The bottom one is me.
– – –
“…a large percentage of bright young men and women locate the impetus behind their career choice in the belief that they are fundamentally different from the common run of man, unique and in certain crucial ways superior, more as it were central, meaningful—what else could explain the fact that they themselves have been at the exact center of all they’ve experienced for the whole 20 years of their conscious lives?—and that they can and will make a difference in their chosen field simply by the fact of their unique and central presence to it…” – David Foster Wallace, “Mr. Squishy”. Oblivion: Stories.
– – –
“I read,” I say. “I study and read. I bet I’ve read everything you read. Don’t think I haven’t. I consume libraries. I wear out spines and ROM-drives. I do things like get in a taxi and say, “The library, and step on it.” My instincts concerning syntax and mechanics are better than your own, I can tell, with all due respect. But it transcends the mechanics. I’m not a machine. I feel and believe. I have opinions. Some of them are interesting. I could, if you’d let me, talk and talk.” – David Foster Wallace
Here’s an excerpt from a longish (~2500-3000 word) essay I’m writing for publication as a Kindle Book. It frames current belief in the college degree vis-a-vis traditional monotheistic religions’ value systems, and critiques it thusly. Do enjoy:
Other doctrines with similar promises of deliverance (from evil, which is defined by each organization) have since emerged alongside the political -isms. These doctrines, much like those of monotheistic religions, moralize participation. No neutral “other” category exists if a doctrine’s raison d’être is predicated on establishing the supremacy of the doctrine’s adherents with respect to unbelievers.
And this brings me to my absolute favorite organizational whipping boy: the university system. If we want to use Atran’s three factor framework, evaluating the university system as one promising salvation, defining itself in terms of good and evil, and defining aforesaid good based on subscription to, somewhat mechanistic participation in its doctrine, it becomes clear that in many ways our longstanding infatuation with the university, its straw-man promises of material prosperity and intellectual richness, deliverance from poverty and dullness, resembles the unquestioning religious fervor and generalized dogma of monotheistic traditions Atran warns against. Drinking the Kool Aid is what we’re programmed to do. I’m just here to make it sour.
As soon as I am out of school, it’s getting a good edit and going up for sale. It will be $2 or $3, and will be available free to those who want a .PDF copy emailed to them.
Saying that one “must have a B.A. or its equivalent to apply” is akin to signage in the early 1900s stating that “Irish need not apply”. It’s merely discrimination on the basis of social constructs, one on the basis of ethnicity and the other a basis of credibility. A further parallel can be drawn between such mandates: both are decrees issued to maintain the status quo.
I propose the following: a movement to extend affirmative action protection to those without college degrees. We live in a country that prides itself on its (alleged) meritocracy. Let’s let those with merit compete.
… I’m just sayin’.
P.S.: Bring it on.
The intellectual entrepreneur is one who develops, researches, discovers, or learns in order to fulfill objectives beyond the attainment of credentials, approval of peers, or furthering of career goals in a manner or process primarily outside the bounds of extant educational institutions, systems, and pedagogies.
Based on my current, independent study in entrepreneurship theory and practice, I’ve taken issue with the lack of a formal definition of what, exactly, an entrepreneur is. Is “the function of entrepreneurs is to reform or revolutionize the pattern of production,” as Joseph Shumpeter suggested in 1942? Perhaps we should shift our locus of attention from individual “entrepreneurs” to the entrepreneurial process, thus conceptualizing and defining entrepreneurship as a successful act of organizational founding. (see Carroll and Khessina 2005) Perhaps we should do as eighteenth century economists Richard Cantillon and Jean-Baptiste Say did and emphasize the literal translation of entrepreneur as those who “undertake” risks in starting a business or enterprise.
There are dozens of other possible, applicable definitions of what entrepreneurs do, how they do it, and the results of their doings. So, in the spirit of clarifying increasingly varied definitions of entrepreneurship qua entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurship as modified by a preceding adjective (i.e. Social Entrepreneurship or Serial Entrepreneurship) I propose a new, radical redefinition of what’s currently come to be known as “Intellectual” or “Academic Entrepreneurship”.
I applied and was denied admission to the University of Chicago’s Masters Program in Social Sciences summarily and without review of my application. This was, to a certain extent, expected. I am a third-year. I spoke with one of my professors, a well-known political scientist at the U of C, about my denial from the masters program. His advice:
“Here is the reason why you were denied: you posed an existential threat to the established system. Now, I know how tempting it is to make the argument that rules were made to be broken, that there are exceptions to expectations, but I implore you to evaluate the implications of your actions had you been successful. You would have turned over an entire institution, one predicated on a sequential acquisition of credentials. You don’t have to sell me on the fact that some undergraduates are more intelligent than graduate students; I’m trying, here, to sell you on the structural realist argument that how smart you think you are, or whatever intelligence you might exhibit–none of that matters. Okay? Do you see what I’m getting at here? Your actions, their potential outcomes, are defined through systemic constraints–you could’ve been omniscient, for Chris’sake, but because you don’t meet their parameters for admission–acquisiton of a bachelor’s being one of them–they won’t accept you. My best recommendation to you: game the system. Expose it, too. The College needs some shaking up.”
College entrepreneurs around the country are at once impelled by their institutions to “innovate” and launch ventures, yet stymied by organizational structures and other systemic constraints that render college an inopportune time to gain entrepreneurial experience.
This is the first part of a two or three-part series I’m writing for Flyover Geeks. Below you’ll find a paragraph excerpt, but to read the rest, you’ll have to click here.
College entrepreneurs around the country are at once impelled by their institutions to “innovate” and launch ventures, yet stymied by organizational structures and other systemic constraints that render college an inopportune time to gain entrepreneurial experience. In spite of the recent groundswell in enthusiasm for entrepreneurship–focused specifically on developing “social” and technology enterprises–among business leaders and students alike, there has been little change on the part of institutions to support the development of these ventures in any meaningful way.