Sunday, February 03, 2013

MediaWeek (V6, N5): Education as we know it will end, Self-Help Publishing, The Four Beat Poet + More

It's the end of the world as we know it and educators should really care: Nathan Harden in American Interest (Long Read).
The open-source educational marketplace will give everyone access to the best universities in the world. This will inevitably spell disaster for colleges and universities that are perceived as second rate. Likewise, the most popular professors will enjoy massive influence as they teach vast global courses with registrants numbering in the hundreds of thousands (even though “most popular” may well equate to most entertaining rather than to most rigorous). Meanwhile, professors who are less popular, even if they are better but more demanding instructors, will be squeezed out. Fair or not, a reduction in the number of faculty needed to teach the world’s students will result. For this reason, pursuing a Ph.D. in the liberal arts is one of the riskiest career moves one could make today. Because much of the teaching work can be scaled, automated or even duplicated by recording and replaying the same lecture over and over again on video, demand for instructors will decline.

Who, then, will do all the research that we rely on universities to do if campuses shrink and the number of full-time faculty diminishes? And how will important research be funded? The news here is not necessarily bad, either: Large numbers of very intelligent and well-trained people may be freed up from teaching to do more of their own research and writing. A lot of top-notch research scientists and mathematicians are terrible teachers anyway. Grant-givers and universities with large endowments will bear a special responsibility to make sure important research continues, but the new environment in higher ed should actually help them to do that. Clearly some kinds of education, such as training heart surgeons, will always require a significant amount of in-person instruction
Boris Kachka writing in New York magazine: How Self-help Publishing Ate America
This new kind of self-help could never thrive in a vacuum. Or rather, it thrives in a particular vacuum—the one left behind by the disappearance of certain public values that once fulfilled our lives. Strains of self-help culture—entrepreneurship, pragmatism, fierce self-­reliance, gauzy spirituality—have been embedded in the national DNA since Poor Richard’s Almanack. But in the past there was always a countervailing force, an American stew of shame and pride and citizenship that kept these impulses walled off, sublimating private anxiety to the demands of an optimistic meritocracy. That force has gradually been weakened by the erosion of all sorts of structures, from the corporate career track to the extended family and the social safety net. Instead of regulation, we have that new buzzword, self-regulation; instead of an ambivalence over “selling out,” we have the millennial drive to “monetize”; and instead of seeking to build better institutions, we mine them in order to build better selves. Universities now devote faculty to fields (positive psychology, motivation science) that function as research arms of the self-help industry, while journalists schooled in a sense of public mission turn their skills to fulfilling our emotional needs. But since self-help trails with it that old shameful stigma, the smartest writers and publishers shun the obvious terminology. And the savviest readers enjoy the masquerade, knowing full well what’s behind the costume: self-help with none of the baggage.
Interesting article on the Beat Poets and identifies a fourth who committed murder. (Columbia Magazine)
But before the night of August 14, 1944, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg ’48CC, and William S. Burroughs weren’t the three principals of a literary movement — at least, not one that existed outside their own heads. They were simply roommates, friends, and confidants, who shared books and booze and sometimes beds. And, as history would largely soon forget, there was a fourth.

Lucien Carr was a recent transfer from the University of Chicago who seemed to attract admirers wherever he went. Uncommonly handsome, charismatic, and well-read, he was the force that initially united the group: he bonded with Ginsberg in a Columbia dorm over a shared love of Brahms, befriended Kerouac through his girlfriend at a nighttime painting class, and renewed ties with Burroughs, an old acquaintance from his hometown. Independent friendships formed between members of the quartet, but Carr was always at the center.

While his friends wrote books and became revered cultural and literary figures, ringleaders of the Beat movement, though, Carr lived most of the next sixty years in relative obscurity, quietly building a career and raising a family, and avoiding even the reflected glow from the spotlight on the others. Since his death in 2005, interest in the Beats has grown even more, at last illuminating the lost member.
From my twitter feed this week:

UK GPs prescribe self-help books for mental health problems Guardian I am sure @Borisk would like this.
FamilySearch-OCLC partnership OCLC
ALA Midwinter 2013: ALA Creates E-book Scorecard PW
U.S. Attorneys May Weigh in On GSU E-Reserves Case PW
Ex-Apple Guru Kawasaki Is a Self-Publishing Expert BusinessWeek

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