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23/04/2012

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Scott Leslie

So I know this wasn't the main point of either your or George's posts, but as much as you all want to resist the "education is in crisis" framing, I want to resist the "I have nothing against entrepreneurs" framing too. It sounds so reasonable but is exactly the logic that chisels away, inch by inch, notions of "public" "society" and "commons" and leaves us measuring using a balance sheet devoid of meaningful value. So absolutely, reframe, but be careful in reframing that you don't simply throw out one meta-narrative (humanism, progress) for another (economic growth). The "opportunity" we face is to model a radical re-localization in a globalized world, not simply becoming better engines of "growth."

mweller

Hi Scott, I think I'm operating at a more micro level - I don't mind working with companies, for example small software companies can be very good at getting some development done, or others are good at taking research and doing something with it. Universities are often slow, excessively bureaucratic and ponderous about this kind of thing. So I think there are complementary skills and approaches. And in India I got the feeling that people were setting up companies in the education space because they wanted to achieve something and waiting for government machinery to work would take too long.
But what I don't believe is that the commercial mindset is the 'right' one and their way trumps all other approaches (I got annoyed about someone trying to 'teach' me this here: http://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk/no_good_reason/2009/03/who-are-the-reality-instructors-now.html
So, when it's mutually beneficial my experience has been that it's a good thing, but when it's predatory, it usually ends badly for all involved.

David Longman

Good post Martin and also the one about reality instructors.

It stimulated the following note from me that I have just published to our campus bulletin board. The wider context might take some time to explain but be assured that there is going on down here a strong promotion of the entrepreneurial model of HE as an alternative, which is not only slightly bizarre (it's called the Teaching Hospital model) but naive on the part of our leaders (they have no history of business acumen). There is a big political row going in SE Wales about HE, hence the reference in my post to emailing MPs and AMs.

Post follows:

================================

Thanks to Dominic for posting those links and reminding everyone to write to their MPs and AMs about the increasing mess and chaos surrounding reconfiguration in SE Wales.

I do hope that when we write we do not continue to repeat the conspiracy theory that is being propagated in order to explain HEFCW's latest move in this complicated game. The famous Carry On line "Infamy, infamy, they''ve all got it infamy", should remind us that this explanation can make us look silly and weak.

I hope too that, simultaneously, we all take care to be intelligently critical of the broadly based entrepreneurial model of HE that is being promoted across the region but in particular by Newport (e.g see here: http://www.newport.ac.uk/news/newsstories/Pages/HandsonHigherEducation.aspx).

I point you to the blog posts below by a respected OU colleague (who recently gave a talk in the Graduate School) perhaps to provoke a discussion about how it is that the ''entrepreneurs'' in our society (including the financial sector, and of course hoteliers), who have broadly failed to manage or nurture our economy (indeed, who may even be blamed for the mess) are now claiming the high ground when it comes to redefining HE as part of the solution for our economic repair and salvation.

Martin Weller: Education and the Language of Change (2012)
Martin Weller: Who are the reality instructors now? (2009)

Must go, just saw a white rabbit (or was it HEFCW) going down a hole ... must follow it ...

mweller

Hi David - ha, I was wondering why there was traffic coming from the newport intranet! Thanks for the big up.

Reedyreedles

Hi Martin

Thanks for pointing me here - I did try to comment a while back but failed and lost my comments (my fault).

As you know, I'm here based on the 'Perhaps Education isn't that broken' post I wrote recently - http://scieng-elearning.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/perhaps-education-isnt-that-broken.html

To this end, I just wanted to pick up on the 'if it aint' broke dont fix it' point of view....

This is a problem when trying to implement learning technologies - many staff do just fine without it, and (I'm sure partly) due to the fact the reward mechanisms in HE are not particularly great for such things.

But I don't think the statement is actually relevant, let alone helpful. So the rhetoric of opportunity is interesting.

In a sector where we focus on development and enhancement of students (or pupils depending on which age range you work with), and somewhere we focus on research and development ourselves, I wonder if there is such a state of 'not broken', or indeed, 'fixed'. Again, the adage isn't helpful.

Regardless of how 'good' a lecturer/teacher is, there is always improvement; Applying research to practice.

So the point I made in my blog post, was suggesting Education isn't broken, but it could be improved. It will never be perfect. I wonder how damaging the 'if it aint' broken don't fix it' attitude is to not only individual students who perhaps struggle to engage with certain approaches, but to whole programmes of study, and consequently the sector as a whole.

Furthermore, what type message does this attitude portray to our students and graduates. I fear their inspiration to be better (if at all) will be more driven from the view of 'not wanting to end up like lecturer A', rather than 'wanting to be more like him'.

As someone involved in HE for about 9 years (in various roles across different HEIs), regrettably I have seen too many people who live by the unhelpful adage. And my inspiration, whilst often is to do best by my students, is also sometimes to not end up like 'them'. For some reason, the fell out of love with the job. The day I do, is the day I leave the profession.

So Education isn't broken at all. But some of the cogs could certainly do with a clean and an oil!

Sorry for the waffling :-)

Peter
@reedyreedles

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