[p2p-research] The Higher Educational Bubble Continues to Grow

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Fri Nov 6 02:14:16 CET 2009

It is amazing to think that these institutions are really starting to 
crumble, just like Howard Zinn said was possible:
"The Optimism of Uncertainty"
There is a tendency to think that what we see in the present moment will 
continue. We forget how often we have been astonished by the sudden 
crumbling of institutions, by extraordinary changes in people's thoughts, by 
unexpected eruptions of rebellion against tyrannies, by the quick collapse 
of systems of power that seemed invincible. What leaps out from the history 
of the past hundred years is its utter unpredictability.

Here is a link back to my previous post on this, with lots of links:
"[p2p-research] College Daze links (was Re: : FlossedBk, "Free/Libre and 
Open Source Solutions for Education")"

Below is something I sent as a preface when I forwarded that list to some 
unschoolers (not an open list, unfortunately).

====== I prefaced with:

I've been making some unschooly waves elsewhere. :-)

It looks the the very institution of "college" is finally starting to fall 
apart at the mythological seams, just like the mythology of compulsory K-12 
schooling has fallen apart for many unschoolers (and been replaced by 
something better, at least for families that can make it work economically). 
And the current financial crisis is accelerating this for colleges:
   "In a Time of Uncertainty, Colleges Hold Fast to the Status Quo: 
Chronicle survey shows officials expect more financial fallout on campuses"

At the following link is something I posted to a public mailing list that 
focuses on peers building knowledge together, with links I've collected from 
an unschooling perspective mostly about college.

I included the contents below.

Nobody (especially an unschooling parent) would have the time it would take 
to visit all these links anytime soon. :-) It has taken me years to build 
that list by personal exploration, and I've not even read all of some of the 
online books linked. And then there are more paper books at some of the 
sites I have not read in part or in full. But this list of links should show 
just how large the growing intellectual resistance is to mainstream 
schooling at all levels. Now that the economics of colleges are falling 
apart (college has been a bit of a pyramid scheme too, like parts of the 
rest of the economy), things are really coming to a boiling point. It is a 
tough choice whether to throw your money and child into that boiling-over 
pot if you believe in unschooling.

Obviously, everyone needs *education* of some sort throughout their lifetime 
(even if primarily learner-directed education). I'm all for the public 
library. :-) The issue is just whether most *schools* these days of any type 
have much to do with education in anything of long term value to either the 
individual or a 21st century society.

IMHO, the old model of schooling at every level is failing to help our 
society transition smoothly from an assumption of scarcity to an assumption 
of abundance, not because it does not teach facts, but because "the medium 
is the message". Colleges don't teach people how to be part of a society 
that assumes global abundance. Colleges teach people how to be part of a 
society that assumes global scarcity, even to the point of creating scarcity 
intentionally themselves. For example, colleges creating useless busywork 
for most students most of the time instead of empowering them to work on 
real projects of meaning to them. Universities often enforce extensive 
copyrights and patents on their publicly funded research, making it hard for 
others to build on it. Related to that last point:

So, for example, many people at universities may have trouble seeing the 
irony that the technologies used to make military robots in university labs, 
like computers and new materials, could instead produce abundance for all 
globally if the technology was used differently, like to make agricultural 
robots or solar panel producing robots, thus making the killer robots and 
police robots for the most part unneeded. This is something people have been 
taught not to see, or if they do see it, taught not to say anything about 
it. I spent years around robotics in academia including managing a robotics 
lab in the 1980s (and I have been guilty of the same blindness at times), so 
it is a pet peeve of mine at this point. :-) Examples:

For anyone who has an unschooled kid planning to go to college, this list 
below is not so much to absolutely discourage kids from going to college. 
One can still make an argument college is needed for some professional 
degrees, or whatever the reason (including parents seeing it as the best way 
to invest in a child not good with handling money). College can also be a 
lot of fun for the right person. This list is more intended to have kids go 
to college with their eyes wide open. Had I known more about all this, I 
feel I would have gotten a lot more out of college, and been exploited less 
by it. I might still have gone to college (I started it early and it was 
much better than another year and a half of high school :-), but I might 
have treated some parts of it with much less seriousness (like access to 
degrees, certificates, and grades), and some other parts of it with lot more 
seriousness (like access to tools, knowledgeable people, walkable 
surroundings, and a chance to help others).

I realize now I should have included this link in the list too:
   "The Case for Working With Your Hands"
though balanced against:
   "High-Speed Robot Hand Demonstrates Dexterity and Skillful Manipulation"

I posted about ways to move past that automation dilemma here:

And perhaps I should have included, just for background before college:

And as I look to see who else is using the term "college daze", I see even 
Forbes is starting to question the value of college: :-)
   "College Daze: Instead of helping high school grads grow up, colleges 
prolong childhood."
(Though I personally would never recommend a child join the military instead 
of choosing college, as suggested as one possibility there at Forbes -- even 
as I think most of the article is otherwise good to think about for many 
people. Ignoring any other issues about joining the military (like the 
ethics of killing people you don't know on command), you can drop out of 
college if you decide it is not for you, but a life in the military is 
essentially forever these days with "stop-loss" -- given two (or three?) 
wars going on right now. And "forever" is a big decision to make at 
eighteen; joining the military under those terms makes getting a big tattoo 
and lots of jewelery piercings seem like nothing. But obviously, as long as 
we have a military, you want good people running it, so it's a complex 
topic, same as working at a college is a complex topic given all these 
issues that more and more people in academia are coming to understand.)

Feel free to forward.


--Paul Fernhout

Ryan wrote:
> Stephen...on the mark as usual.
> Sent to you by Ryan via Google Reader: The Higher Educational Bubble
> Continues to Grow via Stephen's Web ~ OLDaily on 11/5/09
> Higher education, writes Karl Kapp, is in the grip of a bubble. The
> signs?
> - core mission and fundamentals are ignored
> - disproportionate compensation at the highest levels
> - product value doesn't match marketplace expectations
> - prices are manipulated without regard to market supply and demand
> - perception of exclusivity
> - a delusion that "this market is different"
> I have long affirmed that such a crisis is coming and that it would
> arrive very suddenly after being years in the making. It is now very
> close - within a matter of months. 2010 some time, maybe (at the
> outside) 2011, at least in North America. Funding will dry up, there
> will be significant staff reductions, institutions will merge or close,
> and administrators will be desperate for alternatives. Not just in
> education, but education will be very hard hit, and at all levels.
> Related: the New York Times on public universities. As Leiter
> notes, "The Neoliberal Paradigm in Higher Education has been preparing
> the demise of 'public' research universities for 25 years now. Those
> that become de facto privates like Michigan will survive as major
> research universities, and those that don't will see their former
> excellence gradually erode--unless, of course, there is some dramatic
> transformation in the economic and political culture." Just saying...
> Also related: We must... - "a call to action to create the university
> of the future - Here are five tasks prioritised las month at a "create
> the university of the future" meeting sponsored by the Open University
> of Catalonia and the US based and led New Media Consortium, and
> attended by "forty leaders in open education and technology" Barcelona.
> Source."
> Karl Kapp, Kapp Notes, November 5, 2009 [Tags: none] [Link] [Comment]
> Things you can do from here:
> - Subscribe to Stephen's Web ~ OLDaily using Google Reader
> - Get started using Google Reader to easily keep up with all your
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