Archive for the 'Controversy' Category

Future Higher Education – Why not NOW?

Big Picture Thoughts, Controversy, The Economy No Comments »

Here’s a really interesting look at the potential for individually-tailored freedom to learn within higher education in the future.

Stanford 2025

At first, it looks like a self-serving description of how good Stanford thinks it is now, but then it switches gears and describes an experimental look at what higher education COULD be, after an imaginary “major paradigm shift that ‘happened’ around 2025.” And, it invites us to look at the imaginary future of higher education in the year 2100.

At the bottom of the page, you can choose “a future to explore,” beginning with any of the following segments, Open Loop University, Paced Education, Axis Flip, Purpose Learning, or Design A Future.

Each of the first four describes a utopian segment of an entire system that rights so many of the parts of the system that are wrong for our current socio-economic system, with its embedded system of education, in lock step with the past.  Read it and ask, along with me, “Why not do this NOW?”

The last-mentioned segment, Design a Future, gives you the chance to do just that. You have three sections to begin forming your own ideas: first, for reflection; second, for imagining; and third, for trying out activities and suggestions to get started.

Try it – it’s a wonderful opportunity to loosen our unthinking adherence to the cultural patterns that tend to trap us with in-the-box thinking – by simply asking “Why?” and “Why NOT?”

Lower Expectations of Higher Education?

Big Picture Thoughts, Controversy No Comments »

In a blog post*  titled, “Some Higher Education Facts, Good and Bad,” Mike Mandel looks at the share of U.S. college grads with advanced degrees (rising to 35% by 2008), but he found that the percentage of doctoral degrees had decreased somewhat.  Looking a little farther, he found that the change in “real pay” to holders of doctorates had decreased (by 10%!!!!!) between 1999 and 2008.

Check out this graphic!

Furthermore, in the same time period, the real pay to those with professional degrees had decreased by approximately 3%.

The real pay of those with master’s degrees had increased by a mere not-quite 1% and those with bachelor’s degree had increased maybe a tad-bit more than 1%. (Despite what we’re told is a low current rate of inflation – that’s not much of an increase.)

And that’s not even counting what has happened to the economy since 2008.

In noting the decrease in percentage of PhDs being granted, he mentioned the “relative undesirability of the PhD.”  Uhhhmmm – it’s really hard to hear that phrase.  But, I guess I have to agree that advanced degrees seem not to be paying off in salary expectations – or, these days, in occupational stability either!

If these figures are accurate, here’s more reason to avoid incurring debt while you’re in grad school, even if you love being there. If you don’t love being there, but you’re accumulating debt because you expect to make big bucks in a stable job – is it maybe time to reconsider??

* Mike Mandel’s blog is at

Does Grad School Affect Personality – Adversely?

Controversy, Life in Grad School 2 Comments »

Here’s another article that SHOULD ignite some controversy – but I’m afraid the author may be right.  IS it normal for grad school to change otherwise normal, well-adjusted, functioning adults into paranoids?  DOES grad school change personalities (negatively)?

Is it possible to humanize grad school?

Freedom to Learn, by Carl Rogers, the great humanist-psychologist, was published in 1969. I can still remember my thrill when I read the chapter on what grad school COULD be like. He advocated positive support for all grad students once they were admitted. That meant treating them from the beginning like colleagues-t0-be, who could be mentored, and guided to become great learners and teachers.

What the article linked (above) assumes is that (paranoid) grad students are reacting to being treated like competitors-to-be, with suspicion, and being critiqued and tested continuously, at least until the degree is conferred (and after too, if they are seen then as competitors-for-real).

My take is that the way grad students are being treated is analogous to the way those suspected of having committed crimes are treated in much of the non-US world – guilty until proven innocent. Or, lacking until proven able – which, in grad school, is pretty serious as a suspected crime.

Carl Rogers did not subscribe to a survival-of-the-fittest model of graduate education. He assumed that every single one could produce great scholarship, and he invited teamwork-like collaboration among the members of the intellectual community to support grad students through their learning and transition, rather than making it an ordeal to be survived.

Since I read that chapter, quite a few years ago, I have wondered if there are any academic departments around the country following that enlightened model.  Please let me know if you have experience of one of them…..

Controversy in the Ivory Teapot

Controversy No Comments »

Check out this series of comments by the “intelligencia” when they opine about how many students should dance on the tip of an ivory tower (imagine the metaphor). Well, what the Chronicle folks actually asked was, “Are Too Many Students Going to College?”

The experts all seem to assume we’re talking about undergrads, but the question applies equally to graduate education, and I’d like to see a discussion of THAT. It might even raise the level of the verbal fisticuffs.