Tuesday 11 September 2012

What is the point of going to uni?

An interesting point about how the modern university operates:

Current universities are built still upon the limitations of medieval book production technologies. The whole idea of a lecture, one person shouting at a crowd, comes from the idea that books were simply, pre-Gutenberg, too expensive for all to have a copy. Thus they must be read out to the students. This is clearly no longer true but 600 years later we're still working within those past technological constraints. I think it's therefore fair to say that within higher education there's some resistance to change.

I'd never really thought of it like that.

Most of my university units consisted of left wing lecturers reading out chunks from left wing text books that someone else had written In most instances, they could have replaced them with a speaking monkey and a teleprompter. A well-spoken monkey would have been easier to understand than some of the muppets that we had to put up with. I was about the only person in one course that could understand the lecturer - after each lecture, all the other students would borrow my notes and run off to the nearest photocopier. Most of them wouldn't have passed if I hadn't been there to translate his mangled english into the written form.

I remember the shock in my third year of walking (actually, probably staggering half-cut) into a tutorial and finding that it was being led by the lecturer, rather than the usual Honours student that usually ran those things.

This is the worst part of university reform - but I doubt it would bother most modern students:

I hope of course that Alex and Tyler do succeed. As they point out, their first course takes half the time for all of the same material as that traditional university technology. Think how much we would all save if a first degree took 18 months not three years (for the English that is). Think how much more if it were not done on campus. But the great problem is going to be those who currently make a living from a slow campus degree: and unfortunately they're also the same people who determine what a degree is.

Egads - the horror of only having 18 months at uni! Back in my day, it was a Bacchanalian feast of booze and sex (except for the Engineers - all they got was the booze), so you had every incentive to string it out for as long as possible. The horrible little swots that attend today probably wouldn't be interested in majoring in debauchery and mayhem, so an 18 month degree would suit them down to the ground.

I doubt they'd even know the meaning of "toga party".


TimT said...

Procrastination, frantic last-minute preparation for exams, writing essays with splitting hangovers, and possibly negotiating pools of vomit and/or nude college students who happen to be racing athletically around your chair - these are all essential skills that will prepare young students for the modern world.

Steve at the Pub said...

".... feast of booze and sex..."

Whoa! Perhaps I should've completed school, swotted, and gone to uni?
I'm beginning to see how some time at uni could be beneficial....
I know someone who went to university, now I've got something to ask them next time I bump into them... heh heh heh!

TimT said...

Watched that video three times.... man, the guy who plays the Dean/Head-of-school/whateverthehelltheyankscallit has a REALLY great evil-dude voice.

Minicapt said...

John Vernon, played many villains- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Vernon