Education is like freeze-dried coffee

(I'm writing a piece for On the Horizon, which Michael Feldstein is editing. In case it doesn't survive the cut, thought I'd share this analogy)

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The
(higher) education process is largely one of enculturation, whereby students
learn how to become members of the higher education community. This is
appropriate for many domains and careers, but not for all and while inflexibility in the subject content may be addressed by using third party content, the inflexibility of the process
is not, because the process is itself embodied in physical structures of universities. As it
stands, higher education is rather akin to freeze-dried coffee – regardless of
the input, the output invariably tastes of the process.

4 Comments

  1. @Delaney – that’s what the rest of the article is about!
    @AJ – there’s nothing wrong with graduateness (the concept, not the word, plenty wrong with the word), but it just feels a bit one size fits all doesn’t it?

  2. The concept of graduateness is fine BUT then should it be separated out from learning. I have just now come back from a talk by Peter Twining on his schome project. He has always had this take on schools that they have a role as prisons to keep kids out of the way (and actually that is necessary) but should not dominate over helping people learn or progress in life. Universities are perhaps less prison like but the idea of graduateness does have some mix of being there that might not be useful.
    But really I wanted to comment on the coffee analogy – ok on the surface but to be worth having I want more than just that it tastes the same. Especially as the freeze-dried variety tends to cost a bit more and comes with or without caffiene. Is instant taking over? is it the pause to drink the stuff that matters? what about tea (different cultures)? as a cash crop it has wrecked economies? There is so much more to be said :-).

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