Universities Should Heed NYT Editorial About Ending Universities (As We Know Them)

Mark Taylor is right when he says “End the University as We Know It.” To justify his point, he mentions the obvious:

Most graduate programs in American universities produce a product for which there is no market (candidates for teaching positions that do not exist) and develop skills for which there is diminishing demand (research in subfields within subfields and publication in journals read by no one other than a few like-minded colleagues), all at a rapidly rising cost.

What is most disturbing to me is that many high schools continue to coach kids for entry into bachelor degree programs that lead them into just these kinds of graduate programs, thus perpetuating the systems. High schools should create demand for that universities reform by coaching kids for the model Taylor proposes:

These constantly evolving programs would have sunset clauses, and every seven years each one should be evaluated and either abolished, continued or significantly changed. It is possible to imagine a broad range of topics around which such zones of inquiry could be organized: Mind, Body, Law, Information, Networks, Language, Space, Time, Media, Money, Life and Water..

However, Taylor points out the hypocrisy of university faculty – “Many academics who cry out for the regulation of financial markets vehemently oppose it in their own departments” – which unfortunately reflects an outlook up and down the educational system. Students are being prepared for this system by many faculty members who only think in terms of college as they knew it. Rather, guidance offices could train students to find value in programs whose instructors would cooperate across disciplines and continuously strive to grow their knowledge and skills, while working directly with students. Rather than prepare students for an outmoded system that waits for them, I suggest that high schools adopt the innovative, flexible model Taylor suggests for colleges on secondary developmental level, which will create demand, which will create opportunity.


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