Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Whither U: Education in the Time of a 2-tiered System

These tiers are not about tenure (for a change) but not unrelated: the reference is to the increasingly tiered economy, global and domestic and its implications for higher ed. 

Posts in progress, "year of the dangerous meme" and "grow your own" are in drafts. Not the usual ~ after all there are so many calls in so many disciplines and Penn to meet your notification needs, but I have a call to post, plus personal but education related notes on experimental open online courses I am taking, a busman's holiday but covering developments that could change higher ed as we know it. MOOCs may not have that MLA cachet but they make Digital Humanities and HASTAC look retro. 

There's NFM news too, a few items not in time to make the Newsletter, which should be appearing in a few days. I'm one of the BoD you'll meet in this issue's "Meet the NFM Board" feature. Eventually, you'll meet all of us. In the meantime, catch up on back issues in the Newsletter Archives while you are waiting. Otherwise, as a former student at the American University at Cairo, I am consumed with following #Egypt. Back to the newsfeeds...

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Chrystia FreelandThe Atlantic, February 2, 2011.

This is going to have to be fixed before education is fixed. Because education can't fix this: 
"the vast majority of U.S. workers, however devoted and skilled at their jobs, have missed out on the windfalls of this winner-take-most economy-or worse, found their savings, employers, or professions ravaged by the same forces that have enriched the plutocratic elite. The result of these divergent trends is a jaw-dropping surge in U.S. income inequality."
Not just in the U.S., either - the Atlantic article documents this as a global trend. 

And if this global elite is increasingly in charge of education policy, what sort of system would they favor? I would suggest: one that can be turned off. even if ~ or perhaps because, "in this age of elites who delight in such phrases as outside the box and killer app, arguably the most coveted status symbol isn’t a yacht, a racehorse, or a knighthood; it’s a philanthropic foundation." Furthermore, today’s plutocrats meddle more since, "they tend to bestow their fortunes in much the same way they made them: entrepreneurially," which translates into control, using donations to shape the future of institutions they endow. Education for example. 

Nor do these prospective but essentially placeless patrons of higher anchored where we are or share ties that might bind them however lightly to our interests, for "cultural ties that bind the super-rich to everyone else are fraying from both ends at once." Yet for the successful ultra rich to claim, "the challenges faced by the lower end of the income distribution aren’t relevant to them is shortsighted.” That would be like administrators and tenured faculty saying that adjunct issues are not relevant to them them or higher ed.

RelatedDon Tapscott in DavosFractal Inequality at Davos (Reuters), Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools (Dissent Magazine)

Adapted and expanded from Stephen DownesOLDailySubscribe. Licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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