Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Wild Idealism vs Messy Reality. Again.


Well, Kevin Carey's book The End of College has certainly gotten a lot of attention over at Inside Higher Ed. As of today, I've read three essays discussing the book, or discussing the ensuing discussion of the book. Try to keep up, if you have the time.

This is where I came in: Barbara Fister's take, "No Libraries for You!"

Then there was this book review:

Then Audrey Watters and Sara Goldrick-Rab wrote this:

and Matt Reed wrote

Then Joshua Kim wrote

Goodness, what a kerfuffle!  As if that wasn't bad enough, somewhere along the line the conversation got derailed into a discussion about sexism and something called "mansplaining".  What that might be, perhaps someone can elighten me. It sounds a bit silly to me. I thought the discussion was about whether the University of Everywhere idea would fly or not?

How often has this happened, that somebody gets a good idea, and runs waaaaaay past practical reality in declaring it to be the Answer To All Our Problems? 

The part of all this that gets me the most is the naive assumption on Carey's part that the University of Everywhere "brand" will, any time soon, replace the cultural capital that established schools have in terms of potential employers putting faith in the UofE graduate's actual comprehension.  There's a reason people want to to to Harvard - its reputation carries weight. It will take a long time for the UofE to get anywhere near that kind of reputation. And every slacker who coasts or cheats his way through to his 'badge' or certificate will be a barrier to the UofE reaching that point.

Maybe the UofE concept that Casey describes will come about. It will just be long after his 4-year-old daughter has finished graduating from whatever college she ends up choosing to attend. 

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