[iDC] Hackademia as New Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere

Anya Kamenetz anyaanya at gmail.com
Wed Jul 27 18:03:47 UTC 2011

HI Blake:
On Wed, Jul 27, 2011 at 1:33 PM, Blake Stimson <blakestimson at gmail.com>wrote:

>  That is, there is none of the "expand their minds nonsense" that is the
> foundation of our civil-social, political, and cultural heritage but instead
> a vocational, train-for-the-test, bottom-line approach. This becomes
> brutally so in the Lebed video.
> In sum, the "iCollege" notion privatizes not simply because it is a
> for-profit model but because it turns education into a consumer good and
> students into consumers. What drops out in the process is the liberal idea
> of education as the public exchange and public development of ideas and what
> ends up in its place is the vocational idea of the market as the private
> exercise of entrepreneurial initiative and the private exchange of consumer
> goods.

I agree with you that this is truly the heart of the matter, and it's
important to point out the commodification of education and the
impoverishment of our ideas about education and its role in society where we
see it occurring. But I also think the relationship between education as a
private and a public good is more subtle and interrelated.

For one, I don't see vocational forms of education as necessarily inferior.
The original vocation, after all, was the ministry and the original reason
for the American Ivy League was to prepare ministers. "The bottom line" is
also a very deep part of our heritage, and organized education's incredible
power to make people and communities prosperous is an inextricable part of
its power and centrality in Western society. Paradoxically, the kind of
education that tends to do that the most is the elite liberal arts,
mind-expanding model.

The DIY U model as I see it, is about forming a real alternative to
organized education. In its focus on learners' needs it has the potential to
empower learners as individuals, not just as consumers.
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