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July 25, 2009



hi John

Having those lectures available is a tremendous boon and hopefully they will get wider circulation.

Lecturing is only one component of teaching though and not always the best and certainly not the best for every field all of the time. You've probably seen "The Paper Chase" with the Prof. Kingsfield character doing the socratic method. Or you have seen/read Don Vandergriff's faciliation of adaptive thinking. Techniques that stimulate student inquiry generally need some interaction ( which does not require a physical presence but it requires social contact/connection.)

A larger problem than 2nd rate lecturing at universities is arguably poor, unskilled or indifferent teaching, condoned/encouraged by the system's careeer incentives. As you pointed out, we can easily plug in better content - plugging in adept teaching at the right moment is harder


Perhaps the education will be free but the diploma will cost just as much if not more.

We are not serious about education. The fact that there is no 24/7/365 TV channel devoted to basic literacy and numeracy in this era of digital multiplexing is exhibit #1.

"Asked about the biggest threat to their groups' survival, a militant says that 'free secular education for all' leading to an 'increase in the literacy rate' is the gravest threat to the survival of the jihadi groups in Pakistan."
Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill
by Jessica Stern (NY: HarperCollins, 2003), page 230

The dead silence devoted to this idea is exhibit #2.

PS: Abdul Ghaffar Khan established schools in the Northwest Frontier Province for twenty years before he founded his "non-violent army," the Khudai Khidmatgars. It is my suspicion that the Taliban, the "Students," followed the same game plan, minus the Gandhian non-violence, of course.

Eminence Grise

Just wanted to second gmoke's comment: viewed objectively, our society is not at all serious about education.

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