9 responses

  1. Truth
    May 3, 2009

    I just use “pirated” education, meaning, I just download Harvard or Oxford or whatever educational books and professor lectures off torrents or watch them on youtube. I have educated myself in gene engineering this way.

  2. commandersprocket
    May 4, 2009

    Wow, what a surprise! after reading the “before the jump” I had expected an egalitarian, hopeful, and technology-creating-equality read. Instead what I found was “I wouldn’t bet on it” and an apologia on the value of keeping the poor, those with unfortunate k-12 educations, without substantial parental support or those with even mild learning disabilities right where they are. Mechanical engineers, even if they went to the imaginary wikipedia-U would still have to take Mechanical PE exam to become a mechanical engineer.
    Our current accreditation system is in part education measurement and in part a system to enforce class barriers. When we waste the abilities of someone as smart as Chris Langan , because they don’t have the right set of social skills, we toss the future of our country away.
    The business that has created the more wealth than any other in the last 50 years, computer science, is filled with non-majors and college drop outs (Steve Jobs and Wozniak, Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Larry Ellison, Michael Dell). The learning fires of those who did finish (like Sergey Brin and Larry Page) seem to have been stoked MUCH earlier in life (both their fathers have graduate level math/computer science degrees, both went to Montessori schools, they were both well along the path to technological savvy by the age of 15(just as the earlier drop outs were)).
    K-12 education is punitive and boring, it systematically extinguishes the learning fires of our young through dull coursework, lack of real world application and drill and repeat memorization work.

  3. Drew Halley
    May 4, 2009

    C.Sprocket,
    My intention was in no way to reinforce or defend the inequalities that pervade higher education – I don’t feel I did that, either. Rather, I wanted to give my best prediction as to the future of higher education. For better or worse, I see it taking place within the traditional structure of the university, albeit with some changes as technology changes.
    I agree that many individuals have done exceptionally well outside of these structures – you’ve named some particularly good examples. But it is also true that some of the greatest minds of our time – Nobel laureates, movers & shakers, etc – both learned and taught within the university setting. This seems to me the rule rather than the exception. Until I am offered strong evidence to the contrary, I see most – though not all – of the best education continuing to take place within existing institutions.
    I think we can all agree that school structures can be mechanical and uninspired. But (in my experience) they can also have moments of revelation, heights of excellence that forever change the student. I never had my own fire extinguished, largely by virtue to the rare but inspiring teacher, class, etc. I think that education at its best is difficult to replicate with online learning and many of the structures suggested to replace current systems. Most of what I’ve heard are vague complaints about the state of affairs; if a viable new system exists, I haven’t heard it articulated in any convincing way. And believe me, I would love to.
    Best,
    Drew

  4. XM833
    September 15, 2009

    There is a separate role in education which is sometimes overlooked in debates such as these. When learning on your own it is difficult to distinguish the relative importance of ideas or accomplishments in a given subject. Without an interactive guide (professor, mentor, teacher, etc) to help understand context it is easy for someone to follow tangents that have been disproven or bypassed by more recent discoveries. With an overwhelming of information available online it is increasingly hard to separate the wheat from the chaff (not to mention fact from fiction). For example, if one wanted to learn about the biological mechanisms of obesity using only search engines and web content it could become very easy to get misinformed or lost.

  5. XM833
    September 15, 2009

    There is a separate role in education which is sometimes overlooked in debates such as these. When learning on your own it is difficult to distinguish the relative importance of ideas or accomplishments in a given subject. Without an interactive guide (professor, mentor, teacher, etc) to help understand context it is easy for someone to follow tangents that have been disproven or bypassed by more recent discoveries. With an overwhelming of information available online it is increasingly hard to separate the wheat from the chaff (not to mention fact from fiction). For example, if one wanted to learn about the biological mechanisms of obesity using only search engines and web content it could become very easy to get misinformed or lost.

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