Industrialized Universities: No Plato

Neil Remington Abramson commented as follows:

Speaking of grade inflation, plus reliable and valid grades at universities, I doubt that one could even establish validity on an individual or group basis, due to the various subjectivities involved on both sides–professors and students. I think of Plato and his Academy. I bet he wasn’t giving exams at all. In my imagination, it was something of an apprenticeship program, where a few students developed through thoughtful discussion. I get the same image reading Confucius’ Analects. Students had been educated when they had become like their teachers, through prolonged interaction.

I suppose that the problem relates the industrialization of the university. The university is become a factory, stamping out and assembling standardized products with differentiation by segments, working vigorously with the huge input required to financially support the great institution. Rushing to get the necessary throughput and complete the work-in-process inventory, before getting overwhelmed by the next input.

In such a mass system, I suppose there are assumptions we conform to without reflection: thus it has always been, in our own experience. Still, I think the industrialization has increased over my decades as a university student and professor, and certainly over the longer historical time.

I think of all the assumptions that were established, particularly in relation to those born after 1945, justifying mass university education for the “masses”. I question those assumptions now, though when the analysis must conform to the underlying assumptions, I imagine the assumptions will be proven acceptable, Looking back to Plato’s and Confucius’ academies is my effort to reflect on a world of education, before all the “mass” assumptions were established. Quite frankly, I’d rather follow Husserl and question all assumptions, though that appears to be impossible. Still, one can at least try to be suspicious.

I was privileged for years to supervise MBA major research projects, nearly doctoral dissertations in orientation, where we worked individually with a group of 12, apprenticeship style, to teach thorough modeling and to provide detailed and ongoing individual feedback. Virtually everyone succeeded eventually; some more or less quickly, some more or less excellentlym but almost all with enough to both acquire value and to bring value. That was the closest I got to Plato in my entire career as a professor.

This MBA component is abolished now. We supposedly don’t have the wo/manpower any more, relative to other expectations.

We have become more “modern” in our outlook.


About brucelarochelle
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