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Why I Think Mixing Money and Education is just Poison!

Posted by intellisg on June 3, 2007

poison.jpgMY university life was a blur. I probably consumed enough alcohol to stun or kill a herd of elephants. Smoked may fair contribute to global warming by melting a few icebergs. Neither do I have any recollection of ever attending a single lecture, not one where I didn’t either lapse into a coma or found myself waking up in an empty lecture hall. Fortunately despite my out-of-control university life, there were a few things that remained steadfastly dependable. You know what I mean don’t you? Stuff like trains running on time, girls saying “I will call you, pleeeeeeeze don’t call us loser!” on the follow up date, the sun making its appearance every morning which would otherwise make an ordinary life unbearable. One of these irrefutable constants had to be my lecturers. In those days – neither I nor any of my colleagues thought much of them. For starters there was an almost surreal and detached quality about all of them. They were shambolic, barely coherent mumblers. The ones who were genuinely intellectually stimulating were invariably far better at writing than at lecturing, so it made more sense to head to the library and read their yarns than try to stay awake with faint pity as all of us tried not to lapse into a comatose state.

Despite their flaws the lecturers and academics I knew were people who were truly committed to the ideal of real education. They were passionate about their work, people and planet. They believed rightly or wrong what they were doing embodied a noble ideal which involved molding hundreds of us into future leaders in industry and government (if only they really knew how I turned out I’ve probably have to give them all CPR!). Looking back, it seems a stretch, but believe it or not that was how it was. They (our lecturers) really meant it. They had to mean it, otherwise the whole thing would mean nothing.

Only that was then and as I reflect now on the whole UNSW Asia fiasco, I can’t help but feel something’s amiss. I can’t put my finger on it, not just yet, but if I am pressed: – “something is very wrong somewhere when academics start prioritizing money ahead of education and students” – would do quite nicely to describe the long tail of my decaying impression of present day education. I know yadda, yadda, yadda, this is supposed to be the age of globalization and the glorious age of the battery chicken: where everything simply has to make room for money! I reminded we can’t undo the internet any more than we can whirl our way back to the quaint age of the cottage industry. The new order is here to stay! It’s the digital age after all! Everything needs to be done in half the time with half the resources and half the cost. Everything! And that includes education! BUT: that’s the problem isn’t it, the “but” just doesn’t seem to want to go away, it just lingers there like an awkward guest long after a party. Really I wonder? Do you get the same sinking feeling something goes terribly wrong when education and money gets mixed up? What happens to the ideal of education? And what really happens to students?

Why money and education just don’t mix! – an end, instead of a means to an end!

One reason why I don’t think much about this new compact where education is linked directly to the financial spreadsheet –it severely limits education to an end – by this, I mean instead of exploring its wider scope: where it should be ideally profiled into a “means to an end.” The former only stops dead on its tracks and begins cannibalizing deep spirited teaching and learning by squeezing students into the factory model of schooling that’s not so different from our local primary, secondary and tertiary education. They reveal a unique Singaporean failing: to assume only content or knowledge is king and anything that falls outside this corseted scope is irrelevant and not worth pursuing.

While I don’t for one moment dispute knowledge is a great treasure, there is one thing higher than knowledge, and that is imbuing with purposefulness –mere information by itself is worthless and learning how to make trade off analysis between manufacturing battery operated dildo’s or toasters may be terribly important, but you don’t necessarily need to go to university to do that! You could just as well gather that sort of information in one sitting in a library. And let me just add this, if that’s all you are gathering from your university education i.e learning how to put stuff together to convert sheet metal into an automobile then you need to consider whether perhaps you’re wasting your time!

As I said unless knowledge can be imbued with a higher sense of purpose only then can it really be meaningfully useful to their possessors and enable instead of disabling them. To make real sense of information – mere understanding isn’t enough – one needs to think critically and even laterally if possible, to find fruitful linkages with other information, and grasp the deeper meaning of that relationship, which implies seeking out patterns, drawing out inferences, teasing out the contradictions. This task of achieving deep spirited understanding – can only be accomplished if education embraces “authenticity.” The question is; can this be accomplished profitably?

The battle of the minds – education: authentic vs fake

Before we dwell deeper into the main question –let’s just spend some time picking away at the whole idea of “authentic education.” What does it really mean? I spent a whole day deliberating this question and let me just share with you some of my findings. Firstly, I believe the whole idea of “authentic” education CANNOT have anything to do money and let me explain why: what I call fake, superficial, sound bite or cinchai teaching and learning is often the direct result of money inspired education –apart from being chronically superficial it offers little in the way of useful knowledge and even less in terms of creative scope. And why is that so?

One reason lies in appreciating the constrains of money inspired education, like money anything, it has to be premised solely on the “economic” considerations. That’s to say, for it to remain economical, education has to be statistically tweaked to find the happy median to maximize on opportunity cost – it not supposed to go beyond this base line not without smoking and exploding at least! And you need to always bear this in mind and anyone who tells you different is either so open minded his brain is spilling out or is so level headed you might as well us them as a side table!
The way fake or money inspired education regularly hollows out the “authentic” is by getting around the “hubris of learning” is by conveniently re-negotiating and re-defining the term “education.” If it did a good job of streamlining and improving the “education,” that’s fine. And I wouldn’t even bother with this article. But too often it hacks away at complexity and reconciles away contradictions by simplifying and regularly passing off anorexia children books as higher education material! Result: sub-standard education that prioritizes ease of teachability without addressing real life complexities. This does little for the battle of minds – it means we are being systematically dumbed down!

The problem is simply this: where money mixes with education, it pays zero dividends for universities to imbue their syllabus with anything that goes beyond general and mediocre thinking, to paraphrase,

IT DOESN’T PAY FOR THEM TO GO BEYOND THE MINIMUM STANDARD OF TEACHING!

Now I can prove this theory mathematically by offering a few mind boggling equations to describe how the concept of AQL (acceptable quality level) is regularly compromised, but it will only serve to confuse many here further. So do bear with me as I attempt to elucidate it all in lay language.

Now you don’t have to have an IQ of 170 to figure out once education and money is linked – everything that isn’t cost effective and doesn’t produce a good return of energy or investments opportunity typically goes out of the window! Regrettably this also includes the ideal of higher education – but how can it be you say? They wouldn’t be called universities if they did otherwise!

That folks in a nutshell, is what money inspired education tries to sell us all: the ideal it’s perfectly fine for the vast majority of students to go through life using 3 cells in their buttocks to make sense of life. It’s perfectly fine to think 2 index points higher than a parrot trained to utter gibberish. Or a monkey who has been taught to pick coconuts – according to the mantra of money education that’s perfectly alright, you still get your degree at the end of the day, there is no harm after all is there? It’s win-win? Right?

I don’t think so! As I mentioned repeatedly “getting that certificate” or “getting there first” only makes sense if knowledge is fused with purposefulness otherwise that certificate of competence has roughly the same utility as the sand paper they regularly off as toilet tissue in my work place! We all know monkeys were the first species to be blasted into space even before Yuri Gagarin, but no one is suggesting that monkeys today are designing and building rockets to journey all the way to Mars. We all know they were just there for the ride. The problem with money inspired educators is: they want us all to believe that’s being the first species to eat banana soufflé in zero gravity is a worthy end by itself.

That’s top grade bullshit UFO and Sea monster bullshit! – Because I know for a fact: education is just a means to an end. And not an end by itself!

One of the most disturbing aspects of linking money to education is it inspires a form of reductionism where complexity regularly just gutted out of the teaching content. Result: only useless information and data, there is no scope for finding linkages as to how make sense of it! It’s supposed to ensure the teaching and learning experience remains economically hassle free and simple: students and lecturers don’t need to beyond the transactional. i.e hello and bye relationship. Neither does the teaching experience leverage on a host of relational interaction to stimulate dialogue, debate and argument which typically develops the rigor of intellectualism – one of the problems with money education is too many constrains are placed on academics to maximize resources, they simply don’t have the time, resources and latitude to create that sort of learning context any more. Result: a re-definition of education where it simply stops at the cost economic point even if it means large gaps in the learning process exist, money education doesn’t reconcile these gaps, instead in pretends they don’t exist and instead prioritizes the conveniently teachable and side steps the abstraction. This invariably results in increased superficiality, shallowness and a whole generation of educated who are no better than Swiss knifes – we all know that’s a great tool to have around – the only problem is, it doesn’t do anything particularly well – that regrettably is what money minded universities regularly churn out mediocre Jack of all trades.

It throws out the question: why does money education make it impossible to go beyond the transactional to the relational?

Hey are you supposed to be teaching or making money?

There are really endless reasons why money education usually produces little in the way of deep spirited learning and I can really go on all day on this issue alone. For the sake of brevity let me just focus on the main factors. One of them is due in to the increasing encroachment of business into academia. Over the past 10 years a gradual shift has occurred, where academia has become ever-more specialized and market driven. Part of the shift has a lot to do with the practical necessities of securing research grants, Professors need to dig up more and more commercial research areas.

The conflict arises because while they are financially rewarded for researching; by contrast, there is no financial incentive to teach well. As a result, the traditional performance indicators where imparting information for the sake of students sake has progressively withered away. This makes lectures inherently more boring: academics no longer see the need to invest time or energy in developing innovative ways of delivering material, all they need is a Microsoft power point and a few cue cards, that should do quite nicely to keep their students docile while they moonlight on their pet projects to get more money!

At the same time money education has also resulted in the relegation of certain streams of discipline, humanities for example has become mired by its inability to produce money printing patents and intellectual property which can be commoditized. Unlike the hard science disciplines – that’s because it’s pretty tough to make a living by being a common sense expert!

What happens to “broader” education when money creeps in! Help, I am myopic!

This is not only disastrous to intellectual trend that has divested academics of their raison detre but it also proclaims the nihilistic message, what cannot make money is these days is considered the stuff of irrelevance. It’s no coincidence in this age of money education all that postmodernist universities can offer these days are disciplines where students can learn how to make a living and very little else. It would make sense to me only if I don’t for one moment believe disciplines in the liberal arts such as history, philosophy and the arts do play a very instrumental role in complementing the hard sciences and to suggest they are irrelevant these days simply because they cannot make money is to deny the truth, they are perhaps the only means for mankind of achieving understanding – that I am afraid is what we are throwing out of the window when we promote money above all else – its nothing less that a travesty as they supply the best material for reflection.

What happens then when they wither away?

Summary

When universities and institutions of higher learning promote money they do so under the implicit assumption they are still able to maintain quality education. That’s a cop out! That remains only true; if the whole definition of “higher education,” continues to nurture the good currency, but with money being the sole imperative, it’s at best an illusion and at worst a gross misrepresentation of fact.

Is it so surprising these days that, it is universities and not pesky kids who are regularly making petulant demands on their students and parents just because they haven’t figured out how to add or subtract like UNSW Asia? Perhaps it’s time for them to just grow up?

May I take this opportunity to wish you all a productive week ahead!

I am Darkness (2007)

(Written by Darkness – Socio / Political – EP 992972-2007 – The Brotherhood Press 2007 / This article is based on an earlier article written by darkness entitled: “There is Education and there is Education.” – Socio/ Econs/ Business – EP 9928721 -2005 – The Brotherhood Press Archives 2005)

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22 Responses to “Why I Think Mixing Money and Education is just Poison!”

  1. And Mr Wang says.... said

    “I really don’t know much about who these “Brotherhood” people are, and the way they write, I don’t think I will find out.

    They talk very obscurely and half the time, they’re basically talking among themselves.

    I don’t care …. Don’t have time to find out.”

    May 3, 2007 1:27 PM

    We give you the facts, you decide!

  2. As It Is said

    I spent around $22,000 for my MBA which took me 3 years to complete. Now, people are spending about $210,000 for a basic degree which takes only 18 months to complete.

    Money increased. Time shortened. Quality sacrificed. Seems like people have become smarter, isn’t it? Or universities have become smarter?

    You are right, darkness, something is amiss when universities are in a hurry to make as much money as possible. However, I think in the case of UNSW Asia, there is something fishy there. EDB could have already put down some advanced cash as subsidies. If that is the case and after weighing whether to pull out and immediately make some money or to hang on and face the possibility of not being able to fulfill the contractual target, then the decision is quite easy to make. That could be the real situation. Why the harsh harsh? Anyway, I may be wrong but that could be a possibility, if we use Shin Corp as an example.

    Smart people sometimes make stupid mistakes if money become the main objective. There are always some other people who are even smarter, cunning, crafty and street-wise.

    Well, education never ends unless we remain:

    AS IT IS.

  3. montburan said

    Good Morning Bambi darkness,

    I never really thought abt it till you mentioned it. Coming to think of it, something just doesn’t seem right these days.

    I did my MBA 3 yrs ago in the US / my cousin is going to the same university this year. I took a look a the course material and it was pathetic and guess what the cost has risen by a whopping 50%!

    So what can we really say here darkness? Either the price of peanuts has gone up or this generation is dumber than my gen? Or money has lost 50% of its value? But that can be bc in the last 5 yr my pay has only rise 25%?

    So what is happening? I smell a rat!

    I just think one reason for the decline of the MBA is bc students no longer see how pay outs commensurate with value.

    Very sad. Do have a very nice day. Sorry to post on this line, but the other line keeps dropping.

  4. montburan said

    Hello,

    Bfr I forget do look at pg 16 of today’s ST – there is write up on UNSW Asia.

    Your analysis was spot on. Only I am just wondering if the pull out cost for UNSW is projected to be $51 mil.

    How much did EDB lose? Is anyone going to enlighten us? Or is the internet, the only means of discussing these issues?

  5. KOHO said

    Harphoon,

    I need a mathematician here to make sense of the data B. Could u pls retrieve pg C from Inspir3d?

  6. harphoon said

    KOHO,

    Arrange with SB and AB to work with someone from the Interstellar Mercantile Guild to make sense of the data / Cerebus and his gang? They r always good with numbers?

    How big a variance are we talking here?

  7. 33 navigator said

    Harphoon,

    We cannot figure it out as well / the variance is over 25 index! (that’s supposed to be impossible) / I have checked the site meter thoroughly on the IS / no spikes / there is only one indication of the thing sinister anomaly /pls go to the daily pg visit / look at the jump in the last two days! (that’s not possible!)

    Can you check directly with darkness. The last two articles were unusually super long even for bro press standard / there is just a possibility darkness was conducting one of his private experiments on the whole of blogosphere again.

    We dont have any other explanation. KOHO bracket the data today pls.

    Signing off. Nav.

  8. 33 navigator said

    Harphoon,

    Sorry -typo / I mean go to the “daily visit depth,” / look at the jump in the last two days.

    I would seriously advise u to check with darkness.

  9. darkness said

    Dear all,

    Relax. It’s cool. Tell Harphoon top all brotherhood publications for the next two weeks. We cant do our job if the site meter churns out dumb readings.

  10. darkness said

    I mean stop all publications. Till this anomaly is clears up completely. Its worm sign – get cerebus to monitor this shit!

    We will wait it out.

  11. KOHO said

    Rodger, good decision darkness. We will stop for two weeks till the worm sign clears up.

    Chronicler can you pls issue a press release to our readers?

  12. chronicler said

    Dear valued readers,

    Due to a serious technical fault – worm sign. The brotherhood press will cease all publications for a period of two weeks or longer if necessary.

    If you are a new reader, we would like to take this opportunity to welcome you personally. We hope that you will take the opportunity to explore many articles in our archives.

    We also have an internet book – “the confessions” – this was the first book ever published by the brotherhood in the internet and enjoyed a circulation of over 30,000 readers.

    We hope that you will take this opportunity to explore the brotherhood press further.

    Meanwhile may I wish you all happy reading and we will be back again!

    The Chronicler

  13. anongal said

    Hello boys,

    I don’t want to insist, but can someone tell me what’s happening??????

  14. observer said

    Anongal,

    I want u to know, I am the longest reader in the b’hood press. I even received a personal citation from darkness himself and I enjoy special rights which are not widely avaliable to the common reader.

    What is happening? Simple, a worm sign according to the brotherhood book of ages (which happens to be their bible or dictionary) is an event, where useless and senseless information floods in screwing up the visitor meter / not so different from how a worm operates by self replicating itself. What it does is boost up the stat meter, but 90% of the loggers dont read, bc they do so only bc they are auto directed or click only bc they interested in the tag line i.e it is numbers = nonsense. It could also be bc of deliberate malicious logging, this part, I am not very clear.

    What I do know for a fact is that, when a worm sign occurs. There is this guy called KOHO who is supposed to monitor and tabulate daily reports on traffic in the IS. He is not a very smart fellow, so when he confused, he cannot make sense of the data and when that happens he cannot feed into the brotherhood planning tool that they use to write articles – they call it the astrolobe, it is a complex math slide rule that darkness uses to assist him in writing articles without this tool, they cannot plan effectively. It is like flying blind without instruments in bad weather.

    Darkness uses this tool very much like a compass, that is why he is able to maximize on the number of readers most of the time when he writes. No one even comes close, not even harpoon or all of them put together. But when the astrolobe is corrupted with useless data, he has to stop. He can’t get a real feel of the readers.

    Usually they wait for the worm sign to stop bfr resuming / the shortest stop they had was one week / longest 4.5 weeks. So I think we should at least expect a 2 to 3 week wait. They will not resume till the worm sign completely wears out.

    These people are not fools, they just dont look at a site meter and believe it, they see things within thing within things. I hope that explains anongal.

  15. eclair said

    “These people are not fools” – well they have to be to be played around like that. Besides what kind of shit customer service is this? Its like going to a five star hotel only to be told it is going to be shut down for 3 weeks because someone forgot to flush their toilet! Talk abt knee jerk paranoia overeaction god!

    This is definitely the mother of all stupid decisions and what may I ask are we all going to read during the interim period?

  16. Dr I. Pang said

    To the editor of the brotherhood press,

    I really dont know what this is all abt. However, I just want to ask when is the next article coming out? In the last few months, the brotherhood press has been very consistent in producing an average 3-4 articles per week. Most of the them (especially the recent ones have been exceptional in terms of content and style) pls try to understand. I am not saying for one moment writers like harpoon, AB and SB are not good writers. They are quite brilliant. Harpoon is sensitive and AB is funny. Only Bambi brings a certain maturity thats rare in the net and a flair that greatly enhances the whole reading experience. I am of course referring to readers my age.

    I sincerely hope the brotherhood press will consider some interim slot (I really dont know what is avaliable) to occupy their readers while they resolve their problems. Many thanks and good luck.

  17. KOHO said

    Harphoon,

    You may proceed with Pg-6 / I think it could be a false worm sign.

  18. Astroboy said

    KOHO,

    I dont think its a false worm sign. Why don’t u monitor it for longer?

    Doesnt it make more sense to let it flush itself out of the system first bfr proceeding?

    There cant be more of 10 of those thing sinisters here. We have all their IP’s, but they may have reserves.

  19. Astroboy said

    KOHO,

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2005SPIE.5812..321J

    Pls go through it KOHO. My only concern is the equations we have been using are nearly 3 yrs old! That’s ancient by any standards.

    I am trying to get the latest patch from the ppl who wrote the article. It is highly possible we are the only ppl in the SG net who really know abt this. so that we can P&P, but I dont think it can handshake with our current platforms on the SLF.

    Worm sign are not necessarily fatal to SLF / 80% of them are benign. Just something to consider KOHO.

    Perhaps we can even try to contact these ppl directly and find out what they really want:)

  20. bobofet said

    Brotherhood,

    “Worm sign are not necessarily fatal to SLF / 80% of them are benign.”

    We have left you so many bread crumbs, but none of you seems to have the processing power to figure out whats happening, except darkness. Allow me to be clear and precise. This is an ultimatum. Please dont try to track us down. We know what your modus operandi is. Dont bother wasting your time. This is a throw away line. Who I am exactly is unimportant, just call me an ambassador of the disenchanted. I represent a confederation of miners who you the brotherhood has been oppressing and treating basically like shit for the last 4 years in sector 00328 / 0028/ OPOT – Strangelands.

    These are the terms and please spare me the negotiations and delay tactics:

    (1) We want a new agreement to regulate the traffic of Minerva class mineral cruisers in the Andromiona-ikorno system.

    (2) We would also appreciate if an agreement will give us the right to bear arms beyond the limit imposed by the Pillium Treaty under ordinance 16 which restricts the Altians to only 3 kilron class star cruisers. The confederation would also like an imposition of an exclusion zone enforced by confederation forces. We no longer want to be policed, harrassed and intimidated by you ppl.

    (3) We also want the brotherhood to stop using intimidating tactics to discourage others from forming strategic alliances with the space miners confederations. Or to use the monopoly of the mercantile guild to devalue the price of our minerals in the open market. We want a new treaty to guarantee a new concord on the extraction and processing of minerals in the Ision sector. We also want the occupation forces of the 130th to be out of the Killaron sector.

    If I dont get a response by 10-7-07 @ 0900 GMT – a 90 MGT TMPI will go off here. Pls dont test me. We are really light years ahead of you. As you can all see.Be reasonable.

  21. bobofet said

    Brotherhood,

    Just in case you don’t think we are serious or lack the technological capability to see our threat through. At 0900 hr local / we will be detonating a smaller version of the TMPI in the strangelands. THe electro- magnetic pulse will affect ONLY Liberian class cruisers as their wave lengths have been specifically targeted. Space navigation will be impossible for at least 11 min during this period – there will be three consecutive burst just to make sure, it is not a coincidence or a systems malfunction. The first signal will be 2 sec. The second 4 sec. And finally a 10 sec for the last. Pls dont test us. We are really light years ahead of you. As you can all see.Be reasonable.

  22. bobofet said

    Brotherhood,

    We would like a real world meeting to discuss terms and conditions for a new space treaty.Pls dont test us. We are really light years ahead of you. As you can all see.Be reasonable.

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