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[Fwd: Education as a Commodity]

fkj fkj at bayou.uh.edu
Tue Nov 18 11:15:37 EST 1997

I am an undergraduate student who happened upon this group for the first
time today.  I have been  reading the many comments regarding our
shortcomings with great interest. Here's my five cents.
(First one cent)-- I have attended several different colleges and
universities over years of frequently interrupted study, institutions of
600 to 30,000, specializing in liberal arts or reknowned for their
scientific research, offering associates degrees or PhDs and I have been
lectured by gifted speakers and somnolent drones. The defining feature
of  those educational experiences that could not have been reproduced
just as well at the library was the accessibilty of someone to answer my
questions  (although librarians can be very helpful).  If I am stating
the obvious, I have not found that I can take it for granted that a
professor or his assistants will be available, capable, or interested in
explaining what is not clear from a lecture or text.  In general, larger
class settings seem to be characterized by more perfunctory treatment. I
have the greatest regard for the TAs and fewer professors who have
helped me to learn by respecting both my curiosity and my confusion. 

(Second four cents)--I don't think that it is possible to overemphasize
the social context in which our colleges and universities exist
(although it is certainly common to misunderstand it --no special claim
made here).  This is a very competitive and individualistic society (I
am refering to the US). A person is entitled to nothing by virtue 
of being born into it or accepted into it by naturalization , not a
home, not food, not medical assistance, not an education, not work.  You
may have what you or your family's money can buy and we attach moral
inferiority to the poor and attribute virtues to the rich.  Education is
a means to most peoples survival.  If you are doing it "for its own
sake" you are otherwise provided for.  I doubt anything has intrinsic
value.  It has the value you attach.  If you value the education of
others try to teach those who don't already know its value.

Frances Johnson

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