[lbo-talk] Speaking of University Bashing...

Andy andy274 at gmail.com
Fri Dec 9 12:40:27 PST 2011

On Fri, Dec 9, 2011 at 2:51 PM, Wojtek S <wsoko52 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Doug: "Schools are hierarchical, man. You know, the teacher is
> presumed to know more than the students"
> [WS:]  So do the doctors and airline pilots.  Hospitals and aircraft
> are hierarchical and I definitely would not like them to be otherwise.
>  Hierarchy is not a problem.  Charaltanry is.  I would not like
> airline pilots telling me that they can cure my inclusion body
> myositis nor would I like doctors telling me that they can fly me from
> IAD to CDG - or at lest that they can do so expertly.  It is the
> pretense of doing cutting edge scientific research while word
> processing conventional platitudes or doing second rate social
> commentary that is the problem with universities.

And yet the first line of defense against that sort of switcheroo is credentialing, no?

I've been trying to reconcile strands of this thread with the practise of training for physical sciences. Fields tend to have their own sets of assumed background knowledge that are required (not necessarily in any formal way) to build on work that's already been done. And it's true that there is a certain conservatism to the process, but without that I think a lot of time would be put into reinventing the wheel, or inventing the perpetual motion machine. If you want to exercise your creativity outside of those structures, there's not much outside of the usual pressures of time and money do come up with whatever you want, like this guy: http://timecube.com/

You could, I suppose, call somebody up outside of a university setting and ask them to train you in something. But then you can do it that way within a unversity setting as well, which is how I got started. And I don't see how working with an independent scholar is a shield from exploitation or abuse any more than is working at a mom-and-pop store. Nor is it a shield against boredom and tedium -- consider musicians and individual athletes, or any manual skill. No matter how into whatever you're doing you are, you're going to need some sort of mentor or coach, in part to push you to do uncomfortable things.

-- Andy

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