…for in just one minute it captures everything that is wrong with how private enterprise is conceptualizing, marketing, and framing the idea of “higher education” in the US right now. This idea of the “waitress” or service job as dead end, and the only way forward is a degree that trains you for what exactly? Hotel and food management? Maybe one of those greatly undervalued undergraduate degrees in business? Could be nice to get a degree in Homeland Security? Or maybe one focused on the exportation of jobs into that global workforce we are so fond of idealizing as the new raison d’être for higher ed—or would that be an economics degree? All the while, commercials like these boil down the essence of the whole idea of the education enterprise in the US right now to its rudest and truest form:predation. Can’t help but think that more and more, education has become stuck in a vicious promotional cycle of “increased income,” “more opportunity,” and “greater freedom” that has locked too many into an unconscionable life of unnecessary debt. Why such costly programs for what are basically trades one could just as easily learn on the job while getting paid. More and more, the compulsory cultural push for education is demonstrative of how the system is cannibalizing itself—feeding it’s own addiction to fostering this perceived institutional need. I mean we’ve all helped to create this monster, it starts simply enough with you wearing a college sweatshirt around your high school senior year, or even getting a college sticker for the back window of your car.
But soon enough the whole thing becomes a sick addiction. You do four years, rack up anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 in debt depending on your situation—and that price point is very much for public schools as well now, thanks Mikhail Gershovich— and ultimately scream out for more punishment because we all know a BA/BS is not nearly enough, we need grad school. And your potential to actually live and enjoy life is further delayed for 2 to 8 years and you have bought into a system that will only further indenture you and sell your soul for one of the cheapest forms of labor going: the academic adjunct. More than that, you’re learning from and mentoring with a vast majority of professors that don’t understand the mechanisms for communication in our moment—what exactly are they training you for? Obsolescence? We have to stop the madness. We are going off the rails on a crazy train, and if England is any harbinger of things to come right now, the financial burden will only get worse. Is it time to walk away from this madness yet?
PS —I’d really like to make a response video to this video. Something equally catchy, but with a few more zombies.
Blech: that site won’t show you what colleges it thinks are best for you without a phone number and an agreement to be contacted by “matching” schools. I’ve heard one end of the phone calls where a for-profit school is trying to convince somebody to enroll right away. I wonder what gainful employ in religious studies or “Arts, Sciences, and the Humanities” they could connect you up for.
Please make that video. Do it in a way that makes it a chain video. I’m ready to kill zombies down here in oz. Upload button poised.
I wish I had more time and energy to do your post justice, but alas I am lazy. I do want to thank you for so succinctly and accurately describing the diseased narrative we have all been duped into buying and selling about education in the US, and the rest of the world I suppose.
The sad part is it starts early, from grade grubbing kids and their high pressure parents. Learning has been transformed from an enjoyable act for its own sake, for a means to the American Dream….
Anyway, great post. Short and sweet and though provoking.
I’m with you but my focus is smaller. Your comments got me thinking about the situation in my home province, Ontario in Canada. We’ve got teachers griping that classes are too large, school boards yammering about cut funding, parents complaining about the reduction of arts and phys-ed classes. And then, out the other end we have a HUGE amount of waste…we have fat-cat education faculties that in order to address their raison d’être, must lure as many post grads as possible into 1 year Education Degrees– the faculties are seen as successful when their programs are full or over-flowing with students who have been duped into accepting the call of “increased income,” “more opportunity,” and “greater freedom” (as you put it).
But to what end? Does the education system in Ontario need 9,000 trained teachers a year? It can’t be too hard to figure out the natural attrition rates for teachers in schools and then base Teacher Education program entrance #’s on the needs of the system. I only wish the Education Faculties could cannabilize themselves – they are a perfect example of the education adjuncts you speak about above….I don’t see a collapsing of Education Faculties coming soon – what would provide the impetus? There is certainly no interest in linking the teacher education programs with the needs of the industry…sounds too much like college, I guess.
Unlike your private higher education example above, in Ontario these are public university programmes and therefore public taxes are paying for the over-schooling of thousands of graduates…
The only people who seem to gain from this sick, disconnected system are the school principals who need supply teachers – there is no shortage of under-employed teachers needing work.
Why do the graduates flock to B-Ed programmes…what drives them to want to endure another year of classes? Perhaps you’re right that it’s a “compulsory cultural push for education” – whatever it is, YES the madness has to stop!!
I’d prefer to see smaller classes, more resources for school boards and a change from the cattle classes prominent in the current education faculties to superior, innovative, SMALL teacher education programs. The entire education system must be seen as one cost unit.
Thanks for the post – as you can see it stirred me.
Here are a few links if you’re interested in learning more about the battle in Ontario:
Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.
A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.
— Milton Friedman
The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.
This made me think of what I’ve been reading about charter schools, and I see a link between privatization and taxpayer dollars going into private enterprise as education indeed becomes ever more privatized. I also think of the book I’ve been reading, /Born to Buy/ (Juliet Schor) and the way corporations offered free (ideologically biased) curricular materials to financially strapped public schools. I worry that there will be conflicts of interest in that kind of privatized education, similar to the way in which many news agencies are part of corporations which have interests that may conflict with a free and open press. If you as a journalist write about a problem that your corporate headquarters caused, you might be fearful for your job.
I know our public school system is very problematic (we could throw dollars at it — small classes, more $ to teachers, for starters, but we haven’t wanted to), but I worry that private enterprise will “own” teachers, “own” research, and “own” the ideological bent of what is taught. All curricula have bias by the choice of materials made, but corporate control worries me even more.
After all, we also have conflicts of interest when researchers work for pharmaceuticals and are supposed to then be unbiased when doing their research. (Search, for example, “conflict of interest research and pharmaceuticals.”)
Do you know this person? Just ran across him:
The bottom line: how do we do what Margaret Mead suggested? (“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”) Are there groups out there having an impact anywhere?
How do we do it? Brainstorm for a minute here. For a start an academic revolt would be good; probably with a popular movement against consumerism, neo-liberal economics, free trade, and growth. We also needs to do this without creating xenophobic sentiment. The problem though is so deep, that it’s not going to be easy or straightforward. A massive academic movement is needed to put forth good ideas about how to re-engineer the system in a really sustainable way.
Start looking for the top down, instead of the bottom up. Forget about grass root struggles, and instead focus on overhauling the entire system. The ideology is broken, and we need a new fresh approach to everything. We need, in fact, big ideas… not little band-aid fixes.
Can I really download this catchy jingle from snoopdoggmerch.com? (Top banner ad.) Is Snoop a smoke-covered edupreneur?
So true, Reverend and sad. Elections’ results tell me it’s a model that will stay for long, and will get worse. I mean, why can’t we reconceptualize THE PURPOSE OF OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM within this society? If Harvard Business Review idolizes McDonalds, what can we expect?
Fear That We, The People Will Not React. Let’s all emigrate to Finland.
How about this for a response video?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIJLIuGkCd8
Also, I completely deny any involvement in raising the cost of attending a certain public university.
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I blame you for everything!
Cognitive surplus, baby!
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