Mission of uncollege — suggestions

On 10/8/2011 7:44 AM, Priscilla Sanstead wrote:

What is our mission? What are our values?

These values may not be universally shared, but I hope everyone will give them due consideration:

  1. We should spread the word that excellent education is now available to anyone dedicated enough to seek it out.
  2. We should help create and collect resources and establish support communities to aid those who want an education to acquire it outside of sanctioned academia.
  3. We should help to promote learning and the value of education (particularly in the US where it is fashionable in popular culture to subject erudition to mockery and ridicule).
  4. We should call into question the value of traditional university education, particularly when it is out-of-date, entirely theoretical, contrived, and irrelevant.
  5. We should, where appropriate, attempt to discredit traditional degrees whose value is increasingly questionable in an environment in which the use of cyber-pseudepigraphy — thesis and dissertation sales and custom ghostwriting — are reducing the conferred degrees to an expensive commodity of no educational significance (a fact assiduously ignored by academia).
  6. We should help the world to recognize the fact that higher education is not only not worth the price, but it is largely for sale — and is therefore one more rift forming between rich and poor.

Of these points, I think that number three is the most important.  An appreciation not only of science and technology but of languages, cultures, philosophy, history and the arts is sorely needed in our fractious society.

I fully expect the suggestion that traditional degrees be discredited to be disputed and, indeed, it should probably not be among the stated intentions of uncollege. On the other hand, it is an elephant in the room that universities are trying hard not to see and I’m not sure we should assist them in their efforts to appear oblivious of the ubiquity of cyber-pseudoepigraphic practices. This is indeed a significant factor in higher education that should be subjected to some scrutiny and should be considered by students trying to determine the best way to acquire an education — students who, whether or not they engage in such practices, will very probably be competing against those who do.

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