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jessicarizzo's picture

One thing I was noticing

One thing I was noticing during our first meeting was how very seductive definitive answers are.  Even when we believe we're broadening our scope, doing the opposite of prematurely cutting off inquiry, I think we often move really quickly to answering questions by denying the validity of the question.  Example: Before we can be so ungrateful as to begin dissecting our own scholarly dissatisfaction, oughtn't we recognize that our dissatisfaction is a privilege?  I think yes.  But only because I think it's always desirable to be able to see yourself as one little part of a big world picture.  Not because this way of thinking neccesarily helps us understand anything about what education is or what it does on the more intimate individual brain/mind/soul level that I'm interested in.  I think the preoccupation with privilege is a way of begging the question.  We're trying (or I want to try) to ask what education does, what it might do.  Then after exploring possibilities, maybe we'll able to articulate what a "good" education is.  Then we could hypothetically compare our ideal of a good education with the one we're getting, and the delivery systems in place here, there, and everywhere.  So I'm proposing that we don't let "privilege" monopolize the conversation, because if we do we'll be taking for granted the universal desirability of the only reality we know... brand name degrees and their (at least until recently) solid links to future socioeconomic security.  

I'll toss out a preliminary diagnosis of my own though and suggest that many of the things that "aren't working" in our educational experiences aren't working because we misunderstand and feel dissatisfied because we have the wrong expectations.  Education isn't a thing, but a process.  I guess it's true that, for some people, years spent in school are dues to be paid or time to be logged in purgatory before getting your golden ticket diploma to fame and fortune, but I sort of feel that it can't be a "good" education if it can be treated instrumentally like this, if it changes you so little that you have the same goals before, during, and after its acquisition.  I accept that degrees and money exist, and that they do influence the shape of our reality.  But they're really just pieces of paper.  And they only mean things because we agree to believe in them.  Ideally, the process of education should feel more tangible, more perception-altering and reality-influencing than those pieces of paper.  

"Knowledge is what you get by knowing." -Gertrude Stein


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