Straw Men

Occasionally when I argue against the claim that higher education is on the verge of catastrophic collapse, and warn that MOOCs are being advanced by many as a replacement for higher education instead of a supplement to it I’m told I’m arguing against straw men. Where are these people? Show me the articles!

The truth is the sentiment is so widespread no one bothers to to write an article about it.  It’s the assumed subtext of most of what you read. However, I couldn’t help but notice this comment on that article I just critiqued:

[Student debt] may not be a ‘bomb’ on the overall economy, but it is a precision guided device that will blow up higher education.  The sub-prime problem resulted in price inflation and excessive borrowing… sound familiar?  Sub-prime killed the housing market just as student debt will start a series of disruptive changes to what we  now recognize as higher education.  Higher education is over subscribed and over priced while powerful alternatives are visible on the horizon.  See article on Massive Open  Online Courses “MOOCs” in the NYT or last week’s 60 minute piece on Khan Academies.  The disruptive technologies are in place while student indebtedness is the trip wire.  It used to be that the quality of higher education could be correlated with brick & mortar square footage per student… does that make any sense today?   An education Tsunami is coming and the globe is flatter than it was… hold on!

This isn’t some brilliant education visionary showing up in the comments. This is a guy who saw a show on TV, read an article in the Times, and is parroting back their implicit meaning to whoever will listen. It’s not a novel interpretation, it’s a banal one. And it should bother anyone who believes the truth is more subtle than that.

One thought on “Straw Men

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