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What If America Had Free University?

05/04/2009 2:58 PM

I'm not American, and so I won't have to suffer all the cries of 'socialist' or other abuse. So I ask, in a moment of complete fantasy, what you think the future history of America (and Canada) would be like, if fully subsidized University were available to all? What if virtually ever man and woman 'of age' in North America were educated to at least a BA level?

What would be the costs and what would be the benefits: To Law and Crime, Politics & Finance, Science and Engineering, etc? What about Global Warming, Global Overpopulation, World Hunger, War and World Government? Would we be competitive with China and India? Would Foreign Affairs policies change? Would American freedoms be so freely given away to creeping fascism? Would health care cost this much? Would pension dollars be dwindling? Would greed take over Wall street? Would we advance to a futuristic utopian society?

I've read how just this approach is what created powerful pacific rim economies. (coupled with Gov't investment in spin-off technology) I think it holds a great deal of merit for reviving economies and modernizing social awareness and helping to eliminate tyranny

Chris

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#257
In reply to #114
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/11/2009 3:07 PM

Value on education is a direct reflection on the parents. Not if you had to pay for it out of pocket.

I think that with all the comments made about paying for your college education, if you had been educated in a free college educational environment, like it is in Russia right now. You'd be opposed to changing it to a the system we currently have.

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#49

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/05/2009 9:32 AM

For students that truly desire to obtain a BA/BS, there are a number of options for those with limited (or no) financial resources. If the premise of the question is that the cost of university prohibits students from obtaining a degree, I would argue that the premise is flawed.

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#53

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/05/2009 9:40 AM

First, I challenge that nothing is ever "FREE." Someone or some group will pay the bill.

Second, virtually every person in America has access to a primary education and still most students don't put forth the effort to offset the cost to the tax payers. Public education form most parents is government sponsored child care and for the students, something like discipline deficient zoo.

Third, You cannot overlook the law of supply and demand, even in a socialist society. Meaning, university tuition has been out-pacing inflation for several years. The leading factor is enrollment due to government sponsered loans and grants putting more student on campuses than they can support.

Finally, The U.S. is already seeing a short fall of skilled craftsmen of every disipline, Boilermakers, millwrights, welders, mechanics, electricians, etc. These are very good jobs that are not taught on a university campus.

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#57
In reply to #53

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/05/2009 10:02 AM

I would very much support a substantial trade school system as an alternative to college, but my experience in Arizona for my sons (hardly a statistical survey) was that it was alos very expensive and they were way less adept at chasing loans and grants.

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#170
In reply to #57

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/08/2009 3:47 PM

Unfortunately the option for trade schools for many students is a, "no way,--- Jose" subject. Where I live, here in Highlands County, Florida, about ten years ago, I was one of just a few intervener's in the creation of a State mandated comprehensive plan for future growth/(growth control) that was forced upon every county.

Of the many issues I promoted/defended was the fact that in Highlands County and in at least the other rural county's the concept of a trade/vocational school was quite unpopular. The expense of creating another variety of schools was taboo as a subject for discussion. Yet the drop out rate for high school students was near 25%.

Before we attack the idea of free higher education for the masses, we simply must correct the faulty issues regarding education in our high school system through out the entire nation. The undeniable fact remains that not every student has the motivation or background to succeed at the higher levels of education. No doubt, robots are replacing labor in many vocations, and computers are replacing the need for huge pools of engineering professionals. In this we create our own losses of opportunity to find employment, for those who function at the lower levels of any profession or occupation.

The only way to change this is to provide opportunities for individuals to transition into a different occupation/profession as the opportunities to continue dry up for ones current employment.

This is the place "IMHO' to create opportunity for those who for what ever reason could not access the higher learning institutes. It is called giving one a helping hand up, not a hand out.

For a fact, those who delight in physical labor in a field for example, mechanics, may not be happy as a mechanical engineer. However, if the class or type of mechanical equipment he favors to work on becomes obsolete, he/she needs the opportunity to adapt to working on other equipment, or if he/she becomes injured they must be permitted options that SSD as an only income. This might include higher education. For a fact, the quality of education one gets learning on the job, may be the motivation for any individual to work harder to get a degree in higher education.

TMF

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#176
In reply to #170

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/08/2009 4:29 PM

I agree. solid thinking GA.

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#63

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/05/2009 11:26 AM

Education could add value to quality of outlook and knowledge, no doubt about that.

It is a generous idea , atleast to think about.

Practicing education values could perhaps will enhance people to come out of the enlisted issues you have mentioned.

Obviously the social set up and attitude of people brings an effective governance.

Free education for the aspiring could be a social remedy.

It should also bear a concern,care and true service.

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#76

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/05/2009 3:07 PM

Education becomes more valuable when it is spread . I would rather there be more Phd's than prison inmates .

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#77

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/05/2009 3:20 PM

I've reviewed the entire thread.

I am reminded of the Historian William Shirer, who wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Twentieth Century Journey, and The Nightmare Years, and some of the values that did exist for him, and many of an era.

"A life of the mind." was valued regardless of your job.

Daniel Schoor is still around and I am sure could speak of a mental landscape different in the US during a particular era.

The Library System, the concept of the Free Library pioneered by Ben Franklin, and its benefits to the culture and society of the US, is a system to look at for evidence of whether or not the government expense of maintaining and offering Free University Educations would be worth the money spent.

Let us look at nations that have now as a basic minimum widespread free lending libraries to see what strengths of culture and economy they have, over those that do not have such a minimum institution.

Hence and then we ought to be able to determine the effects likely to come from "Free University to Bachelors".

Now the world has changed, and the benefits of a BA, or BS, for foot in the door work, is pretty much what a High School Diploma might have been.

Therefore it would be implied that as the High School, Public Education System was of utility, and "free", and further "forced" -as compulsory, the BA, or BS, ought now be the same as was the High School diploma, sort off...

I forget what age it is legal to drop out now.

I do like the idea that instead of watching History, or Fox, I or anybody could watch the University program of our choice, read, the test, send it in, and become certified.

Last I was in Chicago it seemed they did have on TV a thing like this.

I further would like such a thing to be part of the UN.

Chtank has on his site many links to avenues of "free" education, and is an idealist on this score, from what I know.

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#79

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/05/2009 4:44 PM

I think in consept the idea is great just like the public school system funded by our property taxes. The only problem is that the school would have to be deeply involved in the Political Correctness and the same BS that the public schools are. Right now the education at our public schools is mediocre at best. The have plenty of time for social engineering but no time for the big three, Reading, Writing, and Arithmatic.

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#88

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/05/2009 7:10 PM

We need one of the Brits to jump in. They have (I guess they still do) a system where you essentially pass courses by sitting for exams. If you want to go to class, fine. If you want to sit in a library and read, fine. That might be a good low-cost start. Anybody out there to tell us how that works?

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#103
In reply to #88

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/06/2009 4:10 AM

I am not British, but a colonial. Simple system at university, must attend certain compulsory tutorials, attend other lectures if you want to, do your assignments which count for some percentage of your year/semester mark and sit an exam for the rest of your marks to find out if you have actually learned anything in that period. Add the marks together and you pass or fail.

Though I hate exams, I never heard of a more fair or robust system for determining whether someone has learned anything or not.

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#89

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/05/2009 8:30 PM

You say "I'm not an American". Is Canada no longer a part of North America? Did a tectonic plate shift occur at the Great Lakes?

The people of Central and South America are often touchy when residents of the US do not cal them American.

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#92
In reply to #89

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/05/2009 9:14 PM

Who are you to PC Police the vernacular? I know what you are saying, but find it spurious, and resent such posts under the "Guest" avatar.

Further what value at all does your post have in relation to the question?

The question was posted in the Education Section, not the Snothead dumb ass half baked dick head section.

Call has two lls by the way.

What if Education in all fields was free, in the world?

What if there was one language for all tests?

What if Guests would at least address the issues and not be little minutia flyspecks unworthy of note, except to slap to death on our delicate skins?

No matter all around, in my opinion, ignorance is bad.

Got a problem with that?

Go Guest, Go! P.S. Please point out my flaws, for there may be some. Possibly I ought to have used the word nomenclature, instead of the word vernacular. Please accept this note as the insult back, as it was intended.

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#91

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/05/2009 9:00 PM

Chris -- This has turned into a neat discussion. While I sat here mulling over my next tirade an idea occurred that left me feeling as if I were between two parallel mirrors.

This open forum that we are participating in may well be a prototype for a new much more dollar efficient way of conducting education. The moderator becomes a teacher who participates when appropriate and keeps score. The participants present their answers to problems and thereby subject themselves to reviews of their peers which in turn become a subject for scoring by the teacher. The path to automating this system and then reducing education cost is obvious given the progress of computer software and hardware technology. And there are fewer real estate facility expenses. Substantial self study is still required; but a lot of the intangible value of the education experience that involves interaction with others can take place in the forum as well as attached more private study groups rather than in a classroom or lecture hall presided over by a highly paid lecturer.

Bottom line here is, as I suggested in a previous post, that education can never be completely free. All we can hope to do is reduce the costs by making the process more efficient while we argue about who should pay those costs and why. I'm suggesting one possible way that has potential for reducing the work of the teacher and the cost of facilities.

Ed Weldon

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#93
In reply to #91

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/05/2009 10:48 PM

Ed,

That is a stellar idea. If we could couple that with some hands-on methodology and video, it would work. I still think that there is hope in brain research and bio-feedback that some day we will be able to communicate more telepathically or something... but this medium is excellent for many parts of the system.

Chris

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#95

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/06/2009 12:20 AM

All,

I certainly did not expect this kind of response to this thread, and it is difficult to keep up here. We are at 100 posts in essentially 1 day... wow.

I think on balance, most people feel that some funding for education has merit, but are ranging from sceptical to cautiously optimistic in ensuring it's effectiveness for producing real lasting value to the economy.

There are many examples in the world of this type of program stimulating economies, but that there is no stopping evolution, and subsequently it will not work forever. I guess that is a lasting lesson of history, that no good program lasts.

I think a well managed program could do some good, but it needs to have very specific goals, and possibly even an end date, or regular evaluation intervals, that all for continuous improvement.

Continuing on with my analysis: assuming education is pivotal in economic growth, what can be done to prevent (ideally or theoretically) to prevent the deterioration of educational structures into philosophical and labour stressed organizations? (such as we have now with K-12 schooling)

My only thought is what I have expressed previously to strongly goal orient the overall system and academic programming towards hierarchy-of-needs values, and specific economic objectives.

Chris

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#97
In reply to #95

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/06/2009 2:30 AM

Chris -- RE your last paragraph -- In other words it seems like what is going on today is that we are simultaneously finding reasons for more education at the same time that we are chafing at the cost of our current level of education. So we need to prioritize.

We try to teach kids in K-12 a lot more than we used to. Besides teaching them more stuff that the parents don't have time for there are more things the parents can't teach that are really important. Life is much more complex than it was 100 years ago. More demand for college educations puts a load on K-12 to get the kids competitive enough to be accepted for admission. There are other forces like immigrants with language issues, special needs children, the litigious environment and political forces with their special agendas. And on top of that we have a demographic change toward tax payers who are aging and less interested in kids' education as well as working folks who are being squeezed by the economy.

You're right, Chris. Some prioritizing is needed. What are the lowest priority activities in school operations? There are a lot of sacred cows. In K-12 and even at the university level.

With respect to specific economic objectives. Are these the only things that are important in a college education? And whose economic needs are we talking about? Those of the individual student? Those of the businesses which hire? Those of society as a whole? Those of politicians trying to get reelected?

Maybe this Free University thing is not as far fetched as we think. Maybe there is some combination of better priorities, more relevant curricula, less expensive learning methods, better methods of evaluating student performance, more sources of support for education (like businesses) and increase in taxpayer interest to get us to a point where students can at least get started without any out of pocket costs and then qualify for 100% tuition and "books" scholarship by demonstrating a high level of early achievement.

Ed Weldon

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#98
In reply to #97

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/06/2009 2:52 AM

Ed,

thats some diverse thinking... I can only offer my limited opinions. I certainly don't have all the answers.. just some ideas.

For example: If, as I have stipulated, Education is an economically generative process, where the outputs are more valuable than the inputs, then this essentially constitutes an opportunity for business gain. If taxpayer dollars are not to be forthcoming, the perhaps an alternative financing system could work.

Perhaps a stock offering for an school's batch of engineers could represent the future earning potential of those students, and the dollars from the sale would used to pay for the education. (If I'm making any sense) say there is 50 engineering students for a given university in a given year. Say that in 4-5 years they will graduate, and 5 years after that, they will achieve a significant enough earning rate to call the ROI. Perhaps there could be an average predicted income + business value per student. It becomes a typical statistical breakdown... so many students enter the course, so many graduate, some do well, some do not.. some are crack addicts, some are genius entrepreneurs. On average they produce a net gain. worthwhile investment? who knows?

as to your question about hierarchy of needs, I break it down to what I consider real value. air, water, food, shelter, clothing, energy (light, heat, cool) transportation, communication.. for an individual to survive. these things are the absolute essence of value in my opinion.

I don't think it should be artificial, but then I'm a believer in real value, and a value formula based on comparison. As for such things as curricula, methods, evaluations... I maintain that the methodologies will fall into place to meet the overall goals. I have compared it to JFK and the mission to put a man on the moon. Once the objective is set, the ways and means are forthcoming.

This is the 21st century, and there are more tools, materials and resources available than ever before in the entire history of man. So what is stopping a phenomenal explosion of human knowledge and training?

Chris

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#104
In reply to #97

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/06/2009 4:56 AM

Mr. Weldon, I like the way your mind works.

Best of the day to you.

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#96

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/06/2009 2:27 AM

Hi Chris.

Frankly, I think your notion is the best idea I've seen in a long, long time.

There's not a whole lot you can do with folks coming out of a high school these days. 12 years of sitting quietly, and passively accepting traditional education formats just doesn't qualify a young person for much. Haven't seen too many ads saying, "Wanted: thoroughly inexperienced person to sit quietly and listen to me lecture for 6 to 8 hours per day. Must take tests and copy articles from the Internet."

The proverbial "Money Shot" is in higher education and vocational education. This is true for individuals as well as nations. Educational institutions, coupled with job experience, are where people transform into something valuable, useful and dynamic. It's the best possible investment America can make.

The world is filled with under-educated, under-experienced mobs of folks willing to do anything to survive. The world has a surplus of strong backs and obedient personalities. The US has no competitive advantage in such human resources. The human resources that the world wants and is willing to pay well for are the best educated people, best trained people, and best experienced people they can get. Everyone else is on the block at bargain prices.

Education, even in its worst forms, is the genesis of innovation. Greater numbers of educated people correlate directly to more innovation. Innovation results in new inventions, new industries, new conceptual seeds for the future. Educated intelligence is splendidly contagious. It spreads. It lights up the world. And that, as Martha Stewart would say, is a good thing.

I could rant forever on this theme, but will simply thank you for bringing up this issue. It could very well change the world.

Happy Trails !

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#99
In reply to #96

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/06/2009 2:53 AM

Well said.. better than me. Thank you. GA

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#111

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/06/2009 3:27 PM

After reading these posts a few points come to mind:

  • The 'pull yourself up by the bootstraps' model has some merit but you should consider that these 'Horatio Alger' types are important because they are 'heroic' - they are noteworthy because they are rare. As one of the posts mentioned 'all people are flawed', perhaps even those individuals who have worked and clawed themselves up from humble beginnings. When these people arrive 'at the top' they may begin to think that since they have done so, everyone else should be able to do so as well. They reason (incorrectly I believe) that if we could just make life crappy enough, more people would choose to follow their lead. IMHO there are probably not enough such 'heroic' types to use this as a model for economic success.
  • We already have 'socialized' education in this country, at least through high school. Even if you recognize that the quality of this education is uneven, I think most people think this good for society. That's why it is essentially mandatory. If our high tech society now requires a larger portion of workers with even higher education levels, what is the outrage about? Is it so wrong that somebody can learn the skills needed to become an asset to society without making huge personal sacrifices, without amassing a huge debt load before they even start their careers? Is the hunger for moral purity so great that we don't want to accept and benefit from their contribution, because it was not achieved 'by the bootstraps'?
  • Our education system is uneven in quality, riddled with PC nonsense, etc.. There was a suggestion that perhaps engineers and such could agree to volunteer their time to help out. I would take this one step further: why not pay teachers the same as engineers? Then you would not need to rely on volunteers - engineers and others with much to teach could opt for a career in teaching without making a huge personal sacrifice. The field of nursing is a good example. There has been a nursing shortage for as long as I can remember. There are two problems here - attrition (nurses leaving the work force), and lack of supply. The short supply is due to the limited number of openings in nursing schools, which is due to a shortage of nursing instructors, which is due to the fact that teaching in a nursing school requires even more education than being a nurse, and pays less than working as a nurse. You get what you pay for, and if you want to pay teachers less than engineers or nurses, you will for the most part get teachers who are not the best and brightest.
  • As per Orwell's pig farm, some people are 'more equal' than others. I'm sure this will sound elitist, but there are living among us, some people who aren't very smart, or good with their hands, or ambitious, or particularly creative. There are people who have been in horrible auto crashes, run high fevers as children, been kicked in the head by a horse, etc. There are people who are born retarded. There are people who come from families that don't value education, and many who in fact actively disapprove of education and book learning. And there are people who use what cleverness they may have to 'work' the system, to get by without ever exerting themselves. So do we design our education system to cater to the needs of these people? Do we design it to benefit the bright and ambitious? Or do we do what is probably the most difficult choice, design a system that balances the two?

I generally like Chris's idea about free university education, with the caveat that admission standards are critical, so that classroom progress is not hindered by people with no business in a higher education setting. I especially like the idea that the 'free' part is contingent on performance. I also think the idea of requiring something in return for it (public service, etc) is reasonable. Maybe we could even specifically exempt the legendary classes in 'underwater basket weaving'. Other countries have tried free universities, and to the best of my knowledge their societies and economies are no further down the toilet then we are. Some of these countries even have higher standards of living then we in the US do.

So I say it's worth trying. We should admire and respect those who have made great personal sacrifices to get ahead without help, but maybe not listen to them so much on this subject. Exceptional people will almost always find a way. I think the real challenge is to find a way to educate enough of our 'ordinary' people to keep our society and economy growing. We are not doing that very well right now.

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#112
In reply to #111

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/06/2009 3:35 PM

I wish I could give more than one GA for this. Well said.

Chris

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#115
In reply to #111

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/06/2009 4:28 PM

johnfotl: Your comments are excellent and for me a keeper, especially when you speak of the "pull up your bootstrap" model. They also speak a wonderful pragmatism so often missing from the shrill discussions of this complex subject. Thanks you, Sir.

Ed Weldon

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#116

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/06/2009 5:12 PM

I was prompted to do some research into Chicago Educational Television and found some fascinating history. At one point two DC 6 aircraft flew in figure 8s beaming tv down. Still haven't found all I was looking for, but some pretty interesting stuff. Found what I did find by googling Chicago Educational Television.

Might turn up quicker by MPATI, the flying classroom, or KS2XGA.

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#117

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/06/2009 5:59 PM

Good afternoon Chris, Et. al.

After having my computer more or less overtaken by the multitude of responses to this thread, I finally set it aside in favor of other subjects. However, after having an evening to think about the many opinions, I noticed that, "unless I missed something", no one including myself has bothered to discuss the ramifications of having just enough education to get yourself into trouble and not enough to get out it.

Specifically, I am thinking about the current economic crisis that we face here in the good "ole" U.S.of A..I am thinking about the fact that our Govt. created policies regarding home financing believing in the Utopian manner that said policies would not be prostituted and abused by a small percentage of the masses to such a degree that the nations entire real estate market would be subjected to false property value increases, spinning off accelerated property tax increases, that proved to be false and our local "equally naive local govt. jumping on the opportunity to grab billions of dollars in property taxes that they are not ethically in-titled to. Just where did all of these brilliant folks come from.

We are rightfully pointing the finger at increased, "no, runaway" fuel price increases, blamed on greedy Arab Interests, and perfectly fueled by our own policies that permit minimal investments to control huge quantities of crude, with out acquiring ownership of the same, but reaping profits just as if they were actually owned. Anytime that ones excellent credit rating permits, putting up just enough funding, like 5%, to reap the profits = to a 100% actual ownership of any commodity product, with out actually having to invest anything, and therefore not really having invested at all, yet receiving the benefit just as if the entire expense were capitalized, something is woefully wrong. Just part of the recipe for economic disaster.

I find my temper a little difficult to control when I think about the Banking Interests, and the stock market manipulation that has occurred and therefore I will decline to discuss that part of this thread response, except to say that this was just another part of this recipe.

I could go on but I think I have made my point that, too much education, for too many segments of the population, who were raised with out having their morals appropriately drummed into their sculls have led us to this crisis, together with excessive greed has resulted in absolute destruction of faith in the system for the many who will now be shackled to pay the debt, and they played no part in the fiasco.

The end result is that we have too many mouths to feed and too few mules to plow the fields and harvest the crop.

So how shall end this response? Maybe this fits! "we the un- educated and incompetent, will now be shackled to to the grind stone to produce flour out of nothing, as we still owe for the grain that our ancestors ate."

TooMuchFun

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#118
In reply to #117

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/06/2009 6:38 PM

I've mentioned aspects several times of debt, tyranny, NWO, etc. but maybe we don't have the same points of reference for the problems. (here, here, andhere)

but let me go on. Current financial crises are a continuation of the same old Central banking issues. The removal of the gold standard was to create a flexible currency that supposedly would accomodate elasticity in the market place. What is not traditionally taught is that inflation in this context is completely artificial, and is simple an increase in the money supply, compared to the GNP. This is the roots of the evils conducted here. All the extra money goes to buy control and influence, for the slow fascist takeover of the world by the New World Order.

all that said, your points certainly bear on the subject.

Chris

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#119
In reply to #118

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/06/2009 7:31 PM

Regarding the New World Order, Chris, I am in complete agreement that domination of the masses by the powerful few seems to be ongoing. And it seems to me that the "Better" we educate the masses the easier it is to control them. I am referring to the influence that college professors have on manipulating the minds if those who have not yet learned to challenge the Utopian ideas that many of them promote. Hopefully there will be no free lunch for those who desire that power. There is however a small but intense light at the end of the tunnel, Out Scientists and other brilliant minds have made it possible for us to fly, go beneath the sea, and cross it whenever we desire. We have created false economies, made false claims regarding the winning of wars, all we really won was more debt to those funding both sides of said conflict, and even created dead bugs that defend us from live ones. World extinction has occurred a number of times in the past, and will certainly occur again in the future. As for those who wish to eventually control the population of the world, "maybe, just maybe" a little bug that we cannot see with our natural eyes will be the cause of human extermination before we are all ultimately enslaved. I am 67 yrs. old, I do not expect to see the New World Order come to fruition in my life time.

However, as for the darned bug, that is a distinct possibility. And, I learned years ago that the things that we acquire for free we place little value in, and that includes education, and this is exemplified by the results of a free primary education system with out mandatory levels of improvement being necessary before moving on to higher levels.

TMF

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#121
In reply to #118

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/06/2009 8:10 PM

You guys quit crying about the current economic woes of the world and pointing fingers. We're all responsible for the mess. Me too. The only ones I feel sorry for are the few who tried to scream a warning and had their careers wrecked for doing do. Trying to invent nefarious cabals to blame only takes the spotlight away from the root causes, our own selfishness, our resultant willingness to wink at everyone else doing it and our own self centered behavior.

Face it. The standard of living for most of us is taking a hit. It is brutally unfair to many and probably not so awful for some. Life is full of bell curves. But we can do things that will raise the base of those curves. One is to improve the quality and efficiency of our educational systems. I say it's time to slow down the consuming and ratchet up the building.

To improve our education the first thing we need to do is establish some objectives and then broaden our perspective of just what constitutes an educational system. If you think our system consists of nothing but a bunch of buildings full of chairs, students, teachers and way too many expensive administrators and their systems of questionable rules you are very shortsighted. Think about this for a while.........

You are equally shortsighted if you think that the primary purpose of education is to train workers. Do we really expect kids to learn all the other things they need to know to live in our complex modern societies from the TV, their guttersnipe peers or parents that are 60 hour a week workaholics and the rest of the time zonked out on some form of electronic or chemical entertainment?

I submit that if every high school student in the USA in the last 50 years had been required to pass a combination class in personal finance, laws and civic responsibilities the current crash caused by manipulating the financial system of the USA with what was essentially a cleverly hidden ponzi scheme would not have been possible.

Sadly, civics classes have largely disappeared and we don't even touch subjects like law and finance. Oh, that's all the responsibility of the family! As if today's Mom or Dad could teach anyone how to fill out an income tax return or understand the pieces of paper you have to sign to borrow money, sign a lease or buy a home. Better to teach them the politically correct fad of the month and thereby quiet the screamers at the school board meetings and pander to those hopeless drones that tend to be the most senior members of the teachers local and are incapable of teaching anything intellectually challenging. Yeah, right!

And now onward to our university system where the primary purpose seems to be to sort out job candidates for entry into large corporations and provide some way to continue the support of the tenure system via inputs of student tuitions. Oh, and let's not forget the highly profitable system of extortion that gives rise to the $200 text book which magically changes editions once a year to deliver "the most current knowledge of the subject". Or the professional sports teams that have only the remotest connection with the educational process. Surely there must be a less expensive way for companies to select their employees.

Ed Weldon

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#123
In reply to #121

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/06/2009 8:33 PM

ya... I just love the word Nefarious, don't you?

so let's just say that there are forces of erosion and entropy at work.

I agree that the focus should be on building, constructing, creating, developing, etc.

but we also need an immune system that will help us overcome our social diseases, of which greed and crime are primary.

Chris

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#125
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/06/2009 10:18 PM

Chris -- As for immunity against greed and crime; laws and the threat of prosecution and punishment as well as the social pressure from others to stay within bounds are the basis of immunity. While the law side of this is fairly well structured we have allowed the resource of social contempt for breaking of laws as well as immoral and unethical behavior to deteriorate.

We've gotten hung up in fights over minutia of what are essentially religious beliefs grounded in the teachings of particular religions rather than universally accepted boundaries between right and wrong. This has given a bad name for many to the concepts of morals and ethics and their importance in our lives. We often feel these advocates have insufficient basis for their particular morals and that they fly in the face of logic.

When we lose a firm ground in moral and ethical principles ourselves, due in part to a logic based rejection of someone else's religious dogma, how can we expect to exert social influence over those of us who, perhaps as part of their unchangeable personality, are not able to see a clear line between right and wrong?

If one assumes that the churches fail to instill moral and ethical frameworks into many of us non-members where do we turn? Can we expect parents to do this? Should we look to other educational sources? Would such sources be able to even exist without morphing into their own partisan and missionary "religions". Can we as a nation be able to make this work and still have a practical separation between "church and state"?

This all assumes that at least an understanding of morals and ethics are a necessary part of a person's education. Is it? Should it be free? Picture a zero tuition course in the study of morals, ethics and the ideas of world's great religions and belief systems as a prerequisite to a degree.

Ed Weldon

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#126
In reply to #125

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/07/2009 1:05 AM

Well Ed,

this is getting pretty deep, and while they are all valid points, I think they are best avoided. I think society deteriorates for many reasons, and most of them are financial and a lack of options. Forgive me, but I do strongly blame the Fed, and Government spending for actually causing most of the strife in society, and I do think it was purposefully done. More insanity means less people are able to focus on putting an end to the subterfuge....bla bla bla.. don't get me started.

I don't want to fight with anyone. Let us look at empowering solutions. (goal oriented fantasy)

Imagine for a moment that I know nothing of law, politics, or human history, and I show up on the planet one day with a teaching machine. The way the machine works is that everytime you sleep, you get the equivalent of a semester of university knowledge and experience pumped into your brain with multidimensional quality (3d, sound, touch, taste, smell, color, animated or video, etc) and it is of excellent quality.. long lasting memories. In 64 sleeps, you can get 64 semesters of education... a masters degree, practical experience included, all for the low low price of 50$ a semester. I have 1000 semesters worth of training available. you can pick from a matrix of options to get your certificate. Also, I can teach 500 students at a time in multiple languages. (all major languages available)

How do you think this would change our world? what would the effect be in 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years?

The purpose of this is simply to determine what the positive side of education could be?

feel free to modify the scenario to match your own design...

Chris

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#129
In reply to #126

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/07/2009 2:47 AM

Yeah, Chris. I thought I was getting a bit deep and OT. Back to the question at hand. In a nutshell I think that Gene Roddenberry would be the best one to answer this question if he could be with us today.

I think in the first year there would be a lot of serious controversy over whether all this knowledge was a good idea or a bad one. Let's assume that the "goods" prevail over the "bads".

My feeling is that the first results of a significant demographic change in knowledge levels would be the translation into new products and services. Both legal and illegal. The illegal stuff would produce serious problems because the response in that area requires laws which require consensus which in turn takes time. On the other hand the advantages of new legal stuff would show up fast because they typically require reactions that are decisions of one or a small number of people. How this would play out is like long range prediction of weather or the stock markets.

All I can say at this time is that all human institutions "ring" in the same manner that physical systems ring. They are excited by impulses that contain varying signatures, "vibrate" with many modes and contain varying components of dampening. They are often painfully observable. The more energetic the impulse, the stronger the vibrations. But let's ignore this troublesome side issue for the moment and assume gradual application of change and lots of dampening.

In spite of this somewhat theoretical exercise it is fun to imagine the good that would come out of the hypothesis you pose. I do believe higher level of education would force an improvement in the quality of leadership throughout American enterprise both public and private. This factor should act to accelerate the implementation of positive changes.

Anything new requires time for development. A clever new web based business will happen a lot faster than the construction of a revolutionary new power plant.

I could go on and on here but I seem to be running out of wind. Likely for the best. ....... I know; I know what you are all thinking.

One last thought; this would make an interesting simulation game.

Ed Weldon

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#140
In reply to #129

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/07/2009 12:32 PM

Speaking of simulations and mis-education, I just saw an animated presentation about the flu on TV, and the woman and animation were saying/showing that when someone sneezes, the resulting jet of air travels 100 feet AT 100 miles an hour, before dissipating. I personally have a very hard time believing that one. But I know that they are going to play that one over and over and over again until the less educated believe in how dangerous the flu is. I think this is over the top fear mongering... a la "State Of Fear" by Michael Crichton. This is why I keep reiterating that Education is so essential to fight the creeping insanity (especially in the media) that is going on.

I wasn't quite understanding what you meant by ringing an organization. I am familiar with ringing, capacitor discharge, sunusoidal dampening, etc. Could you explain the effect in an organization with examples please?

Chris

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#149
In reply to #140

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/08/2009 12:27 AM

Chris -- You Asked: "I wasn't quite understanding what you meant by ringing (in) an organization. ..... Could you explain the effect in an organization with examples please?"

This question is better answered by a good controls engineer than me. But I'll try to describe what I think I see. I've seen oscillations in factory WIP inventory levels of a single part that suffered a single incident loss of items due to a quality problem. These oscillations took months to die out even though the demand from the assembly floor was steady. The curve looked just like the decay in a damped single degree of freedom spring-mass system. The problem seemed to be related to the crude inventory control order placing function and the manufacturing lead time of the part creating swings in the supply vs demand "ratio" which in turn created an oscillation in stock levels that the production planners eventually were able to compensate for manually.

I began to look at cyclic behavior elsewhere in natural and human systems. They are everywhere in the behavior of commodity markets, politics and the world of nature where they move between two related states of being. I can't explain it as well an is needed at this point. Need to do some study of the subject of control systems to give you a good explanation. Perhaps someone else can help me here and offer a mathematics based explanation.

Ed Weldon

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#150
In reply to #149

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/08/2009 1:17 AM

no need.. I'm fairly well trained in control systems and in quality. I even wrote seom wip software.. so I am following what you need. Most places I've ever worked were far to crude in their self analysis (if any) to catch such a system response. interesting. I even have an understanding of the manual reset. lol...

Thanks,

Chris

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#128
In reply to #121

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/07/2009 1:39 AM

Hello Ed,

I hope that you were not replying specifically to my comments. In fact yours came across as being un-informed regarding innocents who are being dragged down and having their homes taken from them as the profiteers run amuck through our society. I specifically, with out having said so much was addressing the billionaire CEO.s and their over paid pawns that have destroyed all faith in the investment into the future of the market. All of my adult life I have shunned the stock market as being a fool hardy method of securing my future. I invested in land. I anticipated gradual increases in value, and that is what occurred. I anticipated tax increases accordingly. And then the local Govt got lucky. they treated all of the local land owners like were just a cheap date, and a guaranteed lay. Property taxes skyrocketed for about 2 years. Then as the market dropped out of the investment real estate market, and banks were for closing on vacant land contracts, and auctioning the land off, taking the available tax write off, what remains is under valued equitable land being sold in huge quantities, for undervalued prices that are now driving down the taxable income for the communities. Local Governments are operating in the read and are being forced to reduce their bloated payrolls. Considering that you live in the "Peoples Republic of California a state that has an excellent reputation for managing its financial house, I really do understand just where you are coming from! By the way, My sister is a Child Physiologist for the California Court in Northern San Diago, her husband is the head of security at the Orange County Air port, my nephew is a lawyer who graduated from USC, and my niece graduated from UC Davis with a degree in Horticulture. I lived in California just long enough to say, I am damed glad I did not have to stay any longer. Enough for tonight, it's about 1 am and I am very tired.

TMF

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#130
In reply to #128

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/07/2009 3:54 AM

TMF -- I was kinda shooting at you and the "New World Order" stuff.

There's nothing new about a few smart people figuring out how to fleece the rest of us and get away with it. That's been around since the first caveman figured out how to con someone else out of his dinner.

Any idea that there is any real order to that "New World Order" kind of behavior flies in the face of the disaster they brought upon themselves by ignoring the financial hazards in all those derivatives they were buying. But they are individually smart and will keep doing whatever they can to garner wealth and power. Realize that when one of them makes a killing by convincing people to borrow money to buy his stuff he is beating up the other rich guy who loaned them money they will never pay back.

BTW, California is a fiscal mess because we are two states in one border with one badly split government and a silly law on the books that lets the minority rule one part of the budget (the money in) while the majority rules the opposite side (the money out). Income taxes are high because property taxes are low and the Legislature doesn't have the guts to make the bulk of the population pay. The high income types have control of the party that controls the taxing and don't give a hoot about whether the state goes broke or not. The other party has been taken over by the schoolteachers and prison guards unions, the crackpot overendowed environmentalists and low income voters who love all the freebies because that's the only way they can pay the crazy high rents and still live here and don't give a hoot about whether the state goes broke or not because it's all too complicated for them.

And then there's folks like me who live in the same house they bought before prop 13, stay out of debt, take care of our health, do most of our own maintenance and repairs and live almost entirely on Social Security. I like the place myself and so does my wife of 46 years. And I figure it will take the state going bankrupt and have its bonds all go to junk rating for the people on both sides to get a reality check.

Ed Weldon

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#136
In reply to #130

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/07/2009 10:22 AM

Yeah - off topic but a damn good synopsis of what is going on in California. Except for some reason in spite of all this, the state is home to a lot of really smart and creative people.

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#132
In reply to #128

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/07/2009 7:55 AM

TooMuchFun,

Don't forget that power hungry out of control government work as a team with corrupt corporations, unions, not for profits, environmental organizations, etc to "profiteer", as you say. Otherwise you end up sounding like Bill Moyer's on PBS, with the cure for everything being more government control and power. Growing government would just just shift the power from one group of corrupt individuals to another. I think it is intellectually dishonest to primarily blame private enterprise while going easy on the other half of the problem, government.

This topic has veered far from the original topic of publicly funded education. I don't have any solution in my mind that I think is optimal, but I noticed one problem that really hurt education while I was a teaching assistant at UC Davis. School leadership confused equal opportunity with equal outcomes. In one egregious case the engineering department noticed that the female Latino students had a much higher dropout rate that the student body as a whole. They blame when to the professors and teaching assistants, as we were not doing enough to keep the women in school. The real problem was that the women were under enormous cultural pressure from their families to get married and have children before they were 21 or so. Doing that made it almost impossible to finish your degree. Conclusion: the leaders that claimed to be culturally sensitive were actually culturally blind! You see the same thing in politicians and leaders now, wagging their fingers at you for not being multicultural enough to notice differences and then calling you a bigot for noticing differences. It has really burned me out dealing with this.

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#138
In reply to #132

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/07/2009 10:30 AM

The mental picture of the typical "old white men" standing in a circle beating each other as insufficiently culturally sensitive just has me rolling!

Life - sometimes it is laugh or die!

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#137
In reply to #121

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/07/2009 10:25 AM

While I agree with some of your points, the problem with civics classes these days is who is teaching them and what is being taught. The same can be said for any classes that follow the lefts ideology.

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#120

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/06/2009 7:32 PM

The actual quote from Abraham Lincoln is: "A man cannot pull himself up by his own bootstraps, he just ends up with his ass in the air."

The standard operating procedure of funding schools according to local property taxes is stupid since what you want is schools that are of some uniformity within the entire nation, and some counties have more to spend than others.

Teaching is a very hard thing to do, when you are attempting to teach people who don't want to be taught.

To rise above your station through learning does alienate you from the class you come from. The crayfish that drag back into the bait bucket the ones that are clambering out is one aspect of something shared with human beings that is cause for great depression.

I have no contact whatsoever with any of my father's family for instance. He was the first man in his family to gain a college degree. He was a WWII Combat Soldier in the infrantry and apparently Bi, since I exist. He had a Masters Degree and did all he could to be a good provider, while assaulted throughout his life for learning, and being who he was.

I knew a wonderful man who wrote advertising copy who told me he was ashamed that he had written copy used in commercials to get young men to join the army, that basically was derived from copy intended to get young people to read.

"Be all you can be, learn to read." became "Be all you can be, Join the Army."

You know the truth is that Teachers are not all that greedy, and the great ones are simply beat out of the work by low pay and low respect.

It is very rewarding to have students that ask for your knowledge, listen, do as you suggest, and then do better then you.

Still it is tough when you end up in dire straits, smart and educated enough to know why, but reticent about killing people over the injustice.

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#133
In reply to #120

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/07/2009 8:07 AM

You wrote:

"To rise above your station through learning does alienate you from the class you come from. The crayfish that drag back into the bait bucket the ones that are clambering out is one aspect of something shared with human beings that is cause for great depression."

And that is a very profound observation. If we are to use education to elevate the economic prosperity and general citizenship of the US, we have to figure out a solution to that problem. It holds back at least a quarter of our population.

I'm not smart enough to know an answer, but I'm pretty sure any free university (or anything similar) would have to address that. Good point!

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#134
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/07/2009 8:22 AM

To rise above your station through learning does alienate you from the class you come from.

Very astute - and yet sort of the point.

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#141
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/07/2009 1:23 PM

I think it was Samuel Adams who said at the beginning of our great (US) experiment something like "We will be farmers and carpenters so that our children can grow up to be teachers and artisans so that their children can grow up to be scientists and doctors." I'm sure I have mangled the quote, but the idea is intact: we will progress slowly by steps, and education is the engine of our improvement. I think this vision has worked well for us for many generations, but it does seem like things are now going awry.

The idea of education we have practiced for the last few centuries in the western world was an implicit bargain between the educator and the student: we will teach you the techniques to help you become a useful and prosperous member of society, but we will also require you to learn history, art, literature, and the moral wisdom of our western civilization so that you will (hopefully) not abuse your new power for selfish purposes. I believe that in the early years most universities had pretty close ties to one established religion or another, and there was, with the notable exception of the issue of slavery, a general agreement among these religions about what morality meant. But a few centuries of slavery, racism, and narrow minded Puritanism has left this system of morals in tatters. I don't mean to ignore that fact that religious leaders were often at the forefront in the battles against these evils, but it is also historical fact that religion was also used by many other religious leaders to justify them.

So since the subject is free university education, I'll go off topic and rant about morality and religion. Education if done properly, gives the recipient extra economic and social power. Morality is one of the main checks on this power. When there is no common agreement on morality this principle breaks down, and at that point the only barriers to bad behavior are legal. Since money and social power give the citizen a leg up in getting laws passed, the legal barriers soon fall as well. I think this is about where we find ourselves today.

Most of the world's great religions and moral codes are sadly out of date, the fossilized remains of systems that once served the needs of pastoral and agrarian societies. They are essentially frozen in time, while the societies they try to serve have moved on. This is not to argue that the bulk of what these religions have to offer is wrong-headed nonsense, but to point out that they are deafeningly silent on many critical subjects.

But now religion has largely been replaced, at least in many segments of society, by the television. Since the purpose of TV is to keep you watching (something - anything) long enough to sell you some soap, insurance or viagra, I think this means that we are pretty much screwed. We can worship at the altar of our agrarian, monocultural, slaveholding, paternalistic ancestors, who knew very little about science or commerce, or we can worship at the new altar of rampant narcissism, materialism and greed. I don't think that either the old-time religion or the new-fangled entertainment will serve us well. We need to update our moral compass.

All the PC-multicultural-animal rights-everybody-gets-a-trophy crap that we enjoy ridiculing so much should be seen as the faltering baby-steps of this process. Unfortunately these half-baked ideas have already become unquestionable dogma for many, and with the force of law behind them they are now in the position to impose the same kind of injustice they were supposed to correct. These are tough times, and the worst is probably yet to come.

But (naively) I still cling to the idea that 'good' education is a critical part of the long term solution. Who was it who said 'ignorance is the most powerful force in the universe'? The hubris in this statement is hard to miss (the puny affairs of one species on one little planet is of no cosmic significance), but the point is well taken for a social animal such as we in which the affairs of our species looms tall. So while providing each new generation with the knowledge that will help them live useful and productive lives is a big part of what education needs to do, providing only that utilitarian knowledge is not sufficient. Much of the underlying ignorance will remain unscathed. The higher purposes of education are to help people learn to learn, and to provide them with a broad view of the human condition so they can see beyond the little town or neighborhood where they happen to have been born, and begin the life long process of questioning (not necessarily rejecting) the unexamined basic assumptions they grew up with. A broad access to a university education can and should be an important part of that.

PS: Chris – great topic – do we need a new category (GT) for good topics? You've earned one.

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#142
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/07/2009 1:54 PM

Damned excellent essay.

I think there is an error to be made in taking our more "patrician" elders as reflecting our culture as a whole.

We have been through repeated giddy periods of feckless abandon, the pendulum swings back.

As for morals, even our patricians made their comments and lived their lives in conflict with their surroundings. And frequently wrote for posterity while living lives that didn't necessarily embody the same values.

Those values of self-improvement, self-education, and moral uprightness were best embodied within the middle-class; the wealthy had no need to strive, and while outward appearance might be maintained, the wealthy also never had any illusion that those rules applied to them.

Now I will freely agree that our society is currently seeking a new bottom in terms of taste, but I am also fairly sure my generation is neither the first nor will it be the last to say so. But I'm the guy with the "Kill Your TV" bumpersticker

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#144
In reply to #142

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/07/2009 2:31 PM

Hi Ed,

Maybe I wasn't very clear in my comment, or maybe I'm missing your point, but the 'patricians' I was referring to lived a couple of thousand years ago in a desert in the middle east. They believed that their wives and sisters were personal property, and they believed that they themselves were the personal property of their king. That would be paternalism. I think that in most modern societies this belief would be considered pretty sick. But as luck would have it, I haven't yet had the opportunity to live in a desert and eke out a subsistence living by herding sheep. I suppose that if I had I might see the benefit and correctness of such thinking. The point I tried to make was that a moral code developed under one set of circumstances may be incomplete due to the limits imposed by those conditions, and may not be sufficient when those conditions change.

Shoot your TV? I dunno...maybe just avoid the crappiest neighborhoods. I think I might have learned something useful once or twice watching Discovery Science and National Geographic, and I laugh my ass off watching Jon Stewart and Steven Colber(t)...

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#145
In reply to #144

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/07/2009 2:35 PM

You must've loved watching Colbert roasting Bush?

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#147
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/07/2009 2:50 PM

No disagreement, I was thrown off by your quote - and made my own leap

The patricians I referred to would be the nobler members of our own society in our brief history. We have had those who despite wealth and privilege have actually embodied the best of the sentiments you express - so in this instance I use patrician in it's best sense in it's lineage from Greek and Roman times.

As for religion the less I say probably the better.

And the TV - well we all deal with these things as best fits us. I have on occasion like yourself actually been informed - but am all too often simply entertained.

But Stewart I have to admit, exceeds in both humor and content our best news programs.

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#143
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/07/2009 2:00 PM

Johnfotl... this is a stunning essay. GA x 2.

(btw, thanks)

Chris

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#146
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/07/2009 2:45 PM

Agreed!

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#135

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/07/2009 8:22 AM

Great thread!

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#139
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/07/2009 10:34 AM

I whole heartedly agree. I have enjoyed reading the many very thoughtful ideas and I hope to continue broadening my thinking by reading and participating in other discussions.

Thank You

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#148

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/07/2009 3:05 PM

Actually CR4 does allow you to Rate a Thread, though I have suggested it ought to be alongside the GA vote option, instead of up top alongside the subscribe option.

Combining GAs and Good Threads would be a nice addition to the GA number by Avatar, for a Good Question, is as good as a Good Answer, in my view of the life of the mind.

The "life of the mind" is one of the reasons some of us are addicted to this place.

I have come down to distill and say in answer to the question, that whatever Free Lending Libraries did for us, Free University Education would do, only better, considering the reliance on advanced degrees over High School, or even Associates Degrees.

I myself have great interest in Television, and see it as a great potential force for good, as much as I see it the same as others who lament its crass and venal distortions.

The Bureaucracy that controls Television is actually sad, if not sickening.

My go arounds with the UN, the UN Foundation, Current TV, C-Span, and Time Warner over my proposed UNTV schedule intended to mitigate some of the flaws of the intellectual landscape was a real set back for me.

Bright spots are to be found on the History Channel, or Discovery, or even Youtube.

When I actually do find something on PBS, like Nova, or Frontline it is a source of some cheer, but you gottah admit it is not as a set typically where the whole family is likely to set the dial.

If Gore was really as great as to deserve the Nobel I do wonder why we do not see his TV channel commonly available.

Clintons office in New York pretty much told me to go to hell.

Ted Turners UN Foundation wasn't of any help either.

Such wasted work and failure is a cause for depression in my heart, for it is so obvious that TV has great power for both the good, and the bad.

As far as morality is concerned, I do not like it, for it is not always ethical.

Though I myself have a spiritual practice, and know that much of my ethics come from certain precepts of what is called "Morality", I judge Ethics as better to work from in the Commons, than Morality, which may well often be unethical.

In correspondence with David Price the local US Congressman from NC, he indicated that Mario Coumo, Governor of NY, had similar views as my own.

My mother has a degree in teaching, and taught teaching, and I am aware of what is wrong with how teaching is done, and have had arguments in the past with my mother, that I have given up on.

My friends who do have fine secure lives working for Academia say the students who appear are near like weather fronts. You get a batch of good students, and then a wave of students that make you want to walk out of the classroom because they are worthless.

My mother actually stopped even trying because the students were so incredibly disrespectful, and without decency.

I've got a friend who is the drummer in a band now touring in Europe who gave up teaching because both the Administrators and the Students were assaults on him.

Still you figure that change is constant, and it is good to have in place places to go, when one generation rejects the stupidities of another.

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#151

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/08/2009 7:53 AM

I've come to this thread a bit late as I've been away on business so forgive me if I make points which have already been made (there are too many posts to read 'em all if you just a cat)
The availability of such an education system would be great, but you can't educate everyone to degree level, as such a level represents above average intelligence/understanding.
e.g everyone can't be above average, by deffinition.
In the UK the bonkers OFSTED inspectors have a system whereby an achieved level of 'satisfactory' is not considered good enough, and the government wants over half the people to get a university education.
Maybe we need to educate politicians in simple statistics and semantics?

Del

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#152
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/08/2009 8:48 AM

: Lake Wobegon effect

"all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average,"

The Lake Wobegon effect, where everybody claims to be above average, has been observed among drivers, CEOs, stock market analysts, college students, parents, and state education officials, among others. The effect is closely related to the Confirmation bias among others.

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#171
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/08/2009 3:51 PM

: as well...just a few thoughts :..since the people that have been elected to ( us ) capital hill don't even pay their own bar bills...assuming that a better educated populace would gravitate towards philanthropic endeavours out of the goodness of their hearts... noble.. but proof abounds that as a species mankind isn't that smart or kind to each other...

staying with the thought that American society is soft..as the economic markets so soundly prove .. what happens in wall street happens in the world...the world still follows the us's lead..at least 2 major wars were won after us intervention.. of course that barely covers the 100 years of a foreign policy that is infantile in vision and scope...

The American Dream..

considering that in most homes both parents must work to make ends meet..is it any wonder that the " youth " of " our " society have grown up with a set of mores that a snail wouldn't endorse?

cars that bounce 3 feet ( 1 meter ) hydrauliclly..thats world changing alright...

the American education system is not inherently broken.. the " part " thats broken : IMHO :

with the breakdown of the family unit, the eroding of social mores, ( in the 50 and 60's there was a goal : ie. get to the moon )...no clear national direction..

just some thoughts on the subject

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#175
In reply to #171

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/08/2009 4:28 PM

why is this off topic? GA

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#153
In reply to #151

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/08/2009 11:08 AM

You wrote, maybe we need to educate the politicians in simple semantics.

Actually, we need to restrict the "PORK" from/in the political diet. A function of a thing we call the line item veto power of the president.

As for free higher education, I am reminded of a thread that was presented here on CR 4 just a few months back regarding "IQ". In that thread I compared the minimal education, (that is classical education with practical education), of a boy from the Swamps of Louisiana, to the advanced education of a similar child from the City.

I compared the lifestiles of each, exposing great differences in the things they needed to learn in order to survive in the environment in which they would be expected to survive in, in their future.

I believe that education begins at home. There are in fact a number of home schooled children in this nation that go on to higher education. However there are children that are held back from quality education by the simple fact that they were never taught at home to "learn how to learn", by parents who are uneducated themselves. I am referring to the drop-outs and those passed through a system that clearly cannot read at even the ninth grade level. For these students the road through life is likely to be hard. However, some do make the effort succeed and are rewarded for their effort. Others saddle themselves with so much debt and responsibility at a very young age and are never going to rise above the laboring class, and are without the knowledge, experience or desire to push their issue to do better than they themselves have done. Donkeys beget donkeys, and horses beget horses, and mixing the two makes neither.

And the poor go to war to defend the life stile of the rich and famous, and their issue.

TMF

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#154
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/08/2009 11:30 AM

Too true TMF... GA

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#230
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/11/2009 7:49 AM

Actually, studies show that during the last few years of the war against Islamofascism that the majority of the US soldiers are middle class, many with some university under their belt. The poor are sitting out this conflict. The media tells a different story because of their ideology.

Perhaps the comfort level provided by various government programs has created a new paradigm, as no one has to join the military or similar things to feed their family anymore. Or even get a job or an education. While the top performers are motivated to educate themselves no matter what the situation is, the rest of the people do not consistently achieve unless their is a an immediate payback. The concept of delayed gratification has been fairly dormant in recent times.

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#155
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/08/2009 1:54 PM

I feel a ramble coming on.....please curl up the claws until I finish.............

you can't educate everyone to degree level, as such a level represents above average

That's not exactly so, for reasons I have to work up to. For now, I'll just say that some of the thickest people I've ever met have got degrees, and some of the brightest haven't. A degree represents knowledge on a topic, and ability to answer questions on it. 'Intelligence' carries a broader meaning of being able to comprehend and apply knowledge. A person can acquire a first degree with learning by rote. I'll get back to this after a bit of background for our American chums.

Once upon a time, School qualifications would be graded A,B,C,D,E,F. The bandwidth for each grade was constant each year, and potential employers could see an individuals comparative ability. Enter Labour Government, and everyone has to be a winner. Result is that an E grade means you showed up and wrote your name on the form, B means you answered a few questions correctly, and A means everyone else. I've simplified that a fair bit, but in short, an A grade no longer has any useful meaning because everybody has one. On top of that, we have the change in emphasis to coursework. Whilst maybe well intended, it does open the door to suggestion of cheating. The water is further muddied by constant changes to the name of Schools (Academy, Community College, etc etc) and type of qualifications. Few employers are going to have any idea what a kid at 16 or 18 knows. Youngsters are frustrated by this idiocy as much as Teachers and Employers, but it's that ever present desire of politicians to screw things up.

Going back to the topic, and Universities (UK). At one time it was the preserve of those from affluent families. Post war, a few highly able students could obtain a Studentship. Clearly not a balanced state of affairs. Degrees were of a good standard, but in general only accessible to the wealthy. It was like the days of buying a commission in the army. Next came the University grants system, which I shall expand on with gross simplification ; Admission was on the basis of merit. Primarily School grades, which at that time had a meaning. Tuition fees fully paid, and living expenses awarded on the basis of parental wealth. Full living expenses for those from poverty, being reduced on a sliding scale fro the more wealthy. Not a bad system - it worked to break down class/financial barriers to those with academic talent.

Some time, I'm not sure when, the financial aid package changed to one of student loans. Seems reasonable, especially since they don't have to start repaying until post-education income exceeds a certain level. However, the whole thing was doomed to failure; The government allowed pretty much any institution to call itself a University. Former Polytechnics and Colleges of Higher Education had a recognized and valued role - in general a more practical then academic emphasis - but the temptation of being called a University was too much. University became competitive money-maker. At the same time, Government, worried about unemployment figures decided to 'persuade' youngsters to stay on longer in education. That way, unemployment levels look lower, and everybody feels good because we now appear to be a more educated people.

Oh dear, what a catalogue of mistakes......Micky Mouse degrees everywhere. Kids can still go to Uni for 3 years of debauchery because they won't be chased up for the fees. People who with a Degree that tells you nothing of their ability/knowledge. Kids without academic ability marginalized, because Schools have to focus on meeting attainment targets by any means, so they end up semi-feral. The once widespread induction of 16 year olds into the work pace evaporated, not least because we don't exactly make much anymore. Education has become a mincing machine to make all equal, rather than the means to nurture talent in the direction that will promote personal and national well-being. Individuality slaughtered on the table of equality. Even the 'F' grade mentioned is now 'U' for ungraded, because we dare not acknowledge lack of ability by seeing the word 'fail'. There's no shame in lacking ability in one aspect of life, since all people have capability in different things. Success is to be applauded, but equal time should be taken in helping those who see the dreaded 'F'. We ignore them at out peril. (sorry, I've meandered a bit)

With higher degrees, most funding is via Research Councils. Able students are nominated under a quota system and get awarded a grant for fees and living costs.

Perhaps the answer is to apply this system to first Degrees. University's are all now keen to promote how close they are to industry, and how commercially aware they are, so it might work. The University decides how many places it can teach in each course, and applies to the appropriate Research Council for block funding. Based on the quality of teaching, they obtain funding. They then have to distribute living cost fees to students who have been selected for the course. University's will drop nonsense degrees real fast when they realize that the Research Councils won't fund them, they'll also award places on the basis of merit in order to have good results when making their annual plea for funding. The students wealth should be no factor in their ability to apply. If some students don't need the award because they have a wealthy family, it's simply their good luck to get it.

One hiccup in all that is how they get students in the first place. I forget the current figures, but Engineering has a huge first year drop-out rate, because students lack the grounding in mathematics. That problem is outside the scope of this question, but it seems worth mentioning.

In summary ; The Government can control the general direction of higher education by how much they give each Research Council. The Research Councils can do their job of ensuring the money is well spent and being accountable to the Government. The Universities have to maintain quality to get funding, which they can only do be running quality courses and selecting students on the basis of merit.

That was more an open rant, Del, than a reply to you. I've probably got a whole chink of it wrong, but it may give non-Brits some insight into the UK system (albeit from my rambling perspective !)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/4781291/New-universities-could-revert-to-polytechnic-format.html (I was going to insert that somewhere, but can't remember where !)

There isn't much of a culture to works ones way through College, as there seems to be in America, and I can't see it happening. The impact on reducing costs would be small compared to the overall borrowing. Whilst I admire those who've put in colossal hours to do that, I have reservations about it being good in general. Young people need the chance to 'grow' outside the cosseted world of family. If that involves a certain amount of debauchery, I have no problem with it. It doesn't serve the greater good if we unleash 21+ year olds with nothing but academic skill. Having a social life and developing emotionally is just as important. I'd rather they did it when young. Under the Brit grading system, my own rough assessment of first degrees is;

1st : Clever + works hard

2-1 : Average + works hard

2-2 : Average + likes to party

3rd : Couldn't balance work and play.

There's some overlap in that, and it is a bit

Why doesn't America have free University ?

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

After leaving School, those of highest merit should be able to persue further study. When they take their first faltering steps from the family, those with wealth (earned by their parents, not themselves) have an advantage in access to education. Yes, it's a good question.

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#156
In reply to #155

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/08/2009 1:57 PM

read error...brevquot exceeded

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#157
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/08/2009 2:08 PM

I'd been reading, but holding back to try and understand it all. Something had to give. <new pants please>

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#158
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/08/2009 2:22 PM

But seriously tho' I'd have to argue with your early assertion (insofaras I didn't get much futher)

'A degree represents knowledge on a topic, and ability to answer questions on it.'

Oh deary me no, I was given to understand that a degree was about understanding, critical thought and the ability to learn and reason, not just parrotting facts willy nilly...
This is trotted out as the justification for why non-degrees in such tripe diverse subjects as media studies and philoshphy of marsupials is supposed to be as valuable as a degree in partical physics.

Yor time is up...for further discussion please insert another coin.

Del

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#190
In reply to #158

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/09/2009 4:00 AM

I was given to understand......

Aw, bless. You started off so well, with a back-handed way of showing the nonsense of equating 'intelligence' with having a degree. Now you've inserted the the curious word 'about' in that post. Does that mean the process of gaining a degree improves ones ability (re understanding, critical thought and the ability to learn and reason), or that having a degree demonstrates one already had those abilities ? Please fold your paws and slurp some tea whilst I patronise you for a few minutes longer. My egg hasn't boiled yet, so I have some time.

The latest 'rocket-in-the-pocket' for intelligence is the Flynn effect. This link is as good as any (actually, it had pictures, so I like sit more ! ). A first degree doesn't carry any requirement for original thought, so it's hard to draw conclusions about reasoning ability. If I restrict myself to science/engineering, has a University student advanced that much in critical thought/reasoning ? Is that even the objective ? They learn more equations, and get more text book problems to plug them into.

I've forgot where I was rambling with this, so I shall feast on my egg and contemplate the bigger picture of this thread.

"A strategy for recovery must be a strategy for learning," he says. "We must create a society where learning is a way of life and learning is life-long."

"The way out of this slump is hard, but the direction is clear. In the union hall, in the lecture hall, in the concert hall, wherever one Canadian is teaching another to do something they never thought possible, far-sighted government must be there to provide the resources to help everyone realize their full potential."

mmmm, lashings of maple syrup on my eggy soldiers today.

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#193
In reply to #190

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/09/2009 4:37 AM

I was given to understand......

Ah, I agree that to some extent it's nonsense. If a degree is to show you have the skills and potential to learn, then it shouldn't matter what subject you study. In which case, how come I could get in to study 'applied Physics' for a kiss on the arse whereas there were no places to study the scientific side of geography which is what I wanted to do? <pauses to brush chip from shoulder.... pass the maple syrup>.

Anyhow I got the verbals from Daughter (who popped in last night) 'cos her degree is in fine art, and she asserted that her degree was valuable as she was at least allowed to have 'original thoughts' unlike most other degrees.... to be allowed to have ideas you have to study for a phd.

Forgotten WTF I was saying now... <after you with the finger bowl>.
Maybe we should agree on what a degree is for? <you swine you've eaten them all!>

Anyhow,gardening,golf and archery are calling...maybe more tea toast and a catnap first though....decisions decisions...
Del

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#194
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/09/2009 6:02 AM

mmm, yes, that's the tricky one. How to give everyone a slice of the Arctic Roll. Arty type stuff has it's value - it'd be a boring old place just full of scientists and engineers. They need a chance to develop before they get shackled to a job. And while I'm feeling non-judgemental (I'll probably snap out of it soon !), what about Skool leavers at 16/18. Employers won't fully invest in them <agggh put that bloody manual down and screw the widget onto the thingjomculator, I'm not paying you a pittance for that ! >, so maybe somehow society should channel funds to help their vocational training. I know, how about we give them all their share before they can talk, then hope they spend it wisely when they're older.

I've got to go out too - somebody has pinched all my salt !

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#195
In reply to #194

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/09/2009 8:47 AM

...you tight bastard...
All that effort to weave in the old fingerbowl gag, and narry a lol.
That's the last time I stay for breakfast.

Del

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#200
In reply to #195

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/09/2009 1:09 PM

you weaved in it too much

You'll never believe this, but it's totally true ; I was down the docs recently, and there was some pretty locum covering for him. Whilst chatting about other stuff, I mentioned that I was probably smoking more these days. Not too bad, but then I had to flippin' elaborate with, "it's probably because I spent more time at the desk, and have one hand free to smoke with".. The only way out was to joke about how it was 'just one of those things that slip out'. Next time, I think I'd better gaffer tape me gob before I go there !

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#202
In reply to #200

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/09/2009 1:18 PM

can someone please provide me with a dictionary for you British? I have no idea what this is about. sorry you have to explain it to the foreigner...

Chris

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#205
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/09/2009 1:51 PM

A dictionary won't help on this, Chris. I'm desperatley thinking how to explain it without incriminating myself ! A sort of double-entendre thing.....errr.....since the advent of streaming po video, the number of right-handers who can use a keyboard with only the left hand is though to have increased. Del - heeeeeeelllllllppppppp!!!!!!!!!!!! Put down that shandy and help me !

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#207
In reply to #205

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/09/2009 2:01 PM

Well that should not be off topic then. As it relates to computer based training, and the impact of the internet and especially streaming video, you are saying that some prior experience is essential for understanding the video training?

Its a wonder that voice activated technology hasn't developed equally alongside streaming video, so the user can have both hands free... or at least a quick method of switching functions on the mouse buttons.

Chris

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#209
In reply to #207

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/09/2009 2:17 PM

Yes, it's very near topical, but I'm not sure how far I'd go in full view ! Learning and fun aren't mutually exclusive

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#210
In reply to #209

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/09/2009 2:28 PM

OMG!... "teledildonics industry" ROFLMAO!!

That is so bizarre... talk about Cam-A-Suitra!

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#232
In reply to #210

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/11/2009 9:57 AM

Given the unusual "circumstances" our very young soldiers find themselves in culturally in the 'stan and Iraq; i.e. no bars, no bar girls, no..welll

Each shack (squad accomodations) was determined to need "private space" and high speed access

This tiny accomodation is referred to as the jack shack

and from my Navy days - I can tell you the shower shoes are not worn in the shower to prevent athlete's feet.

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#236
In reply to #232

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/11/2009 10:51 AM

eeeewww! lol

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#238
In reply to #236

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/11/2009 10:55 AM

Humans are essentially animals - and gots needs

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#203
In reply to #193

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/09/2009 1:31 PM

this morning was very nice ...19 C.. no breeze .. dug out the golf mat & net .. and a medium bucket..

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#160
In reply to #155

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/08/2009 2:25 PM

I'm thankful for these types of descriptive (ranting but not really) posts, for while they do meander slightly, they do an admirable job of painting the landscape, and I think that it brings into clearer focus on Who is paying, and who Should be paying.

On the list of possible payors is:

  1. Taxpayers/Government. (Direct Funding program up to 100%)
  2. Taxpayers/Government. (Indirect funding program through NGO)
  3. Education Institution by grantable funds.
  4. Student by savings.
  5. Student by concurrent employment earnings.
  6. Student by loan from Gov't funded Student Loan Program. (OSAP in Ontario)
  7. Student by loan from lending institution/bank
  8. Student by post graduation indenture to supporting organization. (ie employers)
  9. Parents/Relatives from savings.
  10. Parents education fund for children. (ie tax deferred Registered Education Fund REF in Canada)
  11. Other.

I'd also like to hear suggestions how to reduce the costs, overall and individually, of education.

I'd also like to point out that I think there is a parallel between students and inventors, in terms of funding their respective programs. both require

  1. An ever increasing amount of knowledge in specific fields
  2. A requirement for ongoing money
  3. An expectation of future performance, requiring investment and development.

Therefore, why not host a university program that teaches Invention, entrepreneurial skills, fund raising, blogging, collaboration, Patent Law & self-patenting, etc? Then the universities, which already are renowned for their spin-off cultures, could have another arena for industry-institution collaboration, plus investment based support of students. craziness?

Chris

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#163
In reply to #160

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/08/2009 2:44 PM

Hi Chris, I used to work at in Jr College, in the Instructional television dept. and let me tell you thats the solution and its cheap, most of the basic info we learn is a repeat that once recorded could be rebroadcast, or put on the net and teachers and their union know this and fight against it, Ive taught and my mom was a teacher, so thisis the painful truth all the the teachers and their unions stop fruitful progress if it will hurt their jobs or security in any way. Lynn

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#166
In reply to #163

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/08/2009 2:58 PM

This is largely true, but only to the extent that a formal lecture is all that is required. It seems to me that the some of the best learning happens when the instructor makes a point, the student grasps the meaning and races ahead, asks a question, and then the instructor answers. Question and answer is vital in many subjects. But maybe that's just me.

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#168
In reply to #166

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/08/2009 3:35 PM

I think that video education works to the extent that there is a 'hands-on' foundation for the material, and to the extent that they connect to that prior hands-on knowledge. It is an excellent tool otherwise.

Given this understanding, I think that perhaps education should be organized around a learning model that is focused on hands-on learning in the younger years, including a large amount of subjective mechanical knowledge. (for men and women) and progress towards the objective, abstract, virtual. Therefore greater use of the video/visual aid methods can made in more advanced courses.

I think I've learned and retained more math counting threads and measuring parts with a vernier than in math class. I think I've learned more physics chopping wood, and digging stones out of post holes.. or at least those experiences gave my later classroom learning something substantial to connect to.

I do not dispute the value of the student/teacher interaction, but still there has to be something experiental for the teacher to connect the new learning to. This is why metaphor is so important learning. It's just like this one time, at band camp....

although its odd that we don't learn faster as we age as a result, with more experience to connect to.

Chris

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#173
In reply to #168

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/08/2009 4:18 PM

Hi Chris

Having taught both formats video and live, and having studied under both formats, I have found that people are different and have different needs. ITV requires disapline but in reality should not cost more than $20.00 a class, I have found that I love a good documentary, and that I can absorb info. from a well produced program like a sponge, I also enjoy a small intimate class w/ a GOOD teacher, (less than 15% of my teachers were good). 80-90% of the stuff in a B.A is basic and unchanging. the sky is blue and will always be blue.

Being that your original disscussion was re: Education for all (more or less), and that many of us dont like the idea of a free ride, I would suggest that ITV or Instructional Web Casting, it could be very cheap and yet not free, the programs could be produced and directed by the best in the business. And the big thing NO COPY WRITE, JUST A BUNCH OF ACREDITED MINI UNIVERSITIES (like Mcdonalds).

many would frown on cheap credentials, but it really comes down to what you can do if you cant get into a big name Univ. or cant afford one. Lynn

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#178
In reply to #173

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/08/2009 4:39 PM

totally true! and this video will absolutely be a major part of all future education. I don't doubt it for a second that this will be the central technology employed, along with actual instructors, or for distributed education, in place of instructors. YouTube is already a phenomenal education... (see some of those videos on how not to crash lol) and is very expanding to see all the variety out there.

In addition to colleges and universities having distance learning programs, other sites like this one will add to the overall library of course material.

GA.

Chris

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#180
In reply to #178

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/08/2009 4:53 PM

teacher tube! wow i just cant keep up with the web any more, see the educ. part of the discussion I emailed to you. Lynn

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#216
In reply to #173

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/10/2009 5:24 PM

Lynn -- I agree with you, Chris and others on the use of the ITV approach and that it doesn't lend itself to real time interaction. That's why in reply #91 above I suggested it be accompanied by a computer/online forum for student and teacher interaction.

How efficient this would be in terms of use of both teacher and student time resources would remain to be seen. But I think it would fill much of the role that similar interaction in the physical classroom plays today.

The objective here is reducing teacher workload and need for physical classrooms and thereby increasing the efficiency or the educational process.

Whereas the process of keyboard entry for most of us is much more time consuming than conversation the virtual elimination of taking of rough notes might be a useful compensation. I should note here that in the actual classroom only a fraction of the students (often a small fraction) actually participate verbally in discussions.

Certainly there would be some need to develop new software and possibly new inexpensive hardware systems to make a forum work efficiently. And it would likely be of most benefit to students who were active participants. But just like this CR-4 forum there would be benefits for people who just "lurk" often because their communication skills or available time resources are not up to actual participation. And there is little doubt in my mind that software that enables the teachers to compile and analyse the conversations (believe me when I say that stuff is here today; I am connected closely to such an enterprise) would greatly assist the teachers in scoring the performance of the students.

So this forum thing with its inherent feature or peer interaction and even peer review would be an important supplement to computer enhanced ITV as the basic instructional foundation.

At what point in the educational process could the forum component be implemented? That depends entirely on the maturity of the students. I'm figuring the first introduction would be for some students at the junior or senior high school level. For others it may only work later on into the first year or two of college. And for some personalities it may never work.

Ed Weldon

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#223
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/11/2009 3:38 AM

Over here, a lot of first year courses at undergraduate level don't involve dialogue. Specifically, in Engineering, courses such as maths are taught to large groups from various disciplines. That's equally true of component courses, such es electrical engineering, where the topic is ancillary to the main degree subject. There's no reason why students can't follow that stuff remotely via electronic media, or even plain old books. I'm not sure how it is now, but the only measure of ability (and thus advancement to second year) was by end of year exam.

Although there's a lot of lab work etc in most engineering courses, foundation material could be studied without setting foot from ones own home. It would save everyone a lot of time and money to do it that way. The down side is that some students lack any ability to work beyond theory or in a group. The reverse also applies, but core knowledge areas could be studied before formal admission. Schools can't be expected to teach to the level required of a first year University student, but these days they fall a long way short of even the most basic stuff. It should be hived off to distance learning. Oddly enough, there were several lecturers who never once saw me - I could see no point in interrupting the education I was getting with my girlfriend, when the lecturer was simply scrawling whatever on a blackboard and giving it all as a typed hand-out at the end. Admittedly that was only in a few courses, but some lecturers have no ability/desire to be in a lecture room, and it's reflected in their teaching style (or perhaps I should say, the tweed jacket as they write on a board).

Yes, I did pass such courses as the type mentioned. It doesn't take a genius to put together the course syllabus, study material, and previous years exam papers. Obviously such an approach only works for a minority of courses, but the point is that that some foundation topics can be studied remotely. I previously mentioned the high drop-out rate of first year engineering students (due to lack of even the most basic maths skills), and there's another reason ; A lot of them expect to be 'taught' as they are in School. Perhaps all potential University students should have to spend some time demonstrating that they can learn rather than be taught?

Communication and group skills are an important part of what a University can help nurture, but that's a gradual process. Schools foster it, and deliver teaching in a cosseted/structured way. There's a big gap between that, and a University environment where the measure of progress is often just examination at the end of the year. Success in higher education depends (among other things) on ability to learn, as opposed to the ability to be taught. Whilst communication and group skills are 'fuzzy' to grade, learning ability isn't; To use one example, potential engineering students could be given the first year maths syllabus and simply told, "come back in x-months for the exam". Pass or fail would indicate whether the candidate is able to organize themself and learn. No doubt boiler-room schools would spring up, but so what - why pay for some bored-stiff, over-qualified person to do it in a university lecture hall. The admissions officer could learn a fair bit by simply asking, "How did you organize your learning to pass the exam, how did you support yourself, and what other interests did you pursue while doing so?".

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#224
In reply to #223

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/11/2009 3:46 AM

GA...
I actually abandonned the course I was doing in favour of my girlfriend's 'Bsc Parenting Skills' course, which I have persued ever since.
Del

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#228
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/11/2009 4:23 AM

Ah, yes.... a few of my contemporaries took the same path. I managed to defer that major for quite some time though, as I contemplate life, it's probably the achievement I cherish most. Life, as they say, is what happens while we're making plans. Del the cat would not be Del the cat without life's curious weaving, and neither would Kris the Kris.

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#231
In reply to #223

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/11/2009 9:23 AM

yes, ga

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#186
In reply to #166

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/09/2009 12:45 AM

John-- I agree with you on the value of the student-teacher interaction. But it is very expensive. I saw some of that just yesterday.

I was invited to be a judge in the competition of senior engineering design projects at the University of Santa Clara, a fine private university with a well regarded engineering school. My day down there gave me a firsthand look at the school and the caliber of students it produces. And the facilities. Like wow! I was very impressed.

The annual tuition is $36,000. Seeing that in the context or our current discussions in this forum it became very obvious to me that there is no way our society is going to educate large additional young people in any way that emulates that approach. A few? Yes. There are people that can afford that. But there are a lot more people that simply can't, no matter what tortuous or creative route someone comes up with to try and get the money out of them or most anyone else.

I've said this before so please excuse me for running on with my position. We need to develop less costly ways to do the educational job. And that goes for all the way from K to post doctoral. To make education more efficient we must reduce the labor, hardware, facility and administrative costs. And we have to reduce the education resources that are wasted on teaching material that doesn't produce a payback of some kind proportional to the cost of the teaching. But that one is another issue, and a highly political and emotional one at that.

Back to cost reduction. Spacecannon highlighted a technology in #163 we've had for 20-30 years now and a major reason why it can't get off the ground. But new technologies are here to join the basic video and recording technology of 30 years ago. What we need is for someone to create an educational business model that can attract customers and produce a BS engineering education that will gain accreditation as well as decent job offers for the graduates. And make the investors happy I think we're talking a non-profit model here funded by foundations and businesses; but maybe not. Maybe it could be done by a state university system. Perhaps the new school could recruit, motivate and make effective use of volunteers.

Has this been tried? Did it work? If not why not?

Ed Weldon

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#187
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/09/2009 12:59 AM

excellent Ed. just what we need.. more clear pragmatic realistic thinking with direction... like Lynn (spacecannon)

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#221
In reply to #186

Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/11/2009 2:11 AM

Dare I ask.....what is K ? Please tell me it's Kindergarten, and not some oblique reference to myself

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#222
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/11/2009 2:41 AM

Good Night, Kris. We have better plans for you. But we have learned from long acquaintance with your cousins not to underestimate you.

Ed

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#227
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/11/2009 4:11 AM

Is that hillbilly acquaintance?..... with cousins, or squirrels? see how easily I fret !

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#229
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/11/2009 5:49 AM

....and that's not to mention how solecised I feel......I can't speak highly enough of American humour

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#243
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Re: What If America Had Free University?

05/11/2009 11:13 AM

The local squirrels, Silly......We have a bird feeder. One of the most amusing shows is an engineer trying to outwit a squirrel.

Ed W

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