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Los Angeles, US
Immortal since Jan 18, 2007
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    the crisis of education
    holy shit.

    i'm trying to sign up for classes.

    it's my senoir year at UCLA.


    This is serious.

    Outside of my my department (Design|Media Arts) there is nothing i want to learn from this institution. EVERYTHING ACADEMIC SEEMS COMPLETELY IRRELEVENT TO MY LIFE.

    What must be understood, however, is that once i knew of two christmas mornings, one was the 25th, and the other, that fateful morning each quarter when the schedule of classes was revealed. In the beginning, I refused to obey any kind of general education obligations, i was interested my own educational agenda, which lead me to classes like Artificial Intelligence and Music with the famous David Cope, American Film Violence, Social Information Spaces, Visual Culture and Technology.

    And things were great for a while.

    But something has changed.

    I've just realized, with stinging clarity, how much i've lost interest in institutionalized learning. I've found a great deal of academic writing to be forced and rigid, and I've often felt like a complete idiot for not being able to see beyond the cockamamy lingo often espoused by the highly educated. But now, more than ever, I feel the weight of centuries old baggage that this institution is carrying, and worse still, that this baggage is the only thing this system of learning is propping itself up on. Do we all have to keep repeating the culturally exhausted theories of a handfull of centuries old theorists? These ideas should certainly not be forgotten, but I don't see many professors pushing people to come up with their own theories, or even asking whether anyone has any to begin with.

    This is precisely the problem.

    Academia, as I've experienced it, gives no creedance to the intelligence of the student. The student is there to learn from the great masters, to humble himself to the wisdom of the ages. I believe in the wisdom of the ages, but I also believe in thinking freely about the world from ones own experiences. FURTHERMORE, Information is no longer locked in vaults, it's free, and this has to begin to play a serious role in the institutions of learning...or i'm dropping out.

    Mon, Jul 9, 2007  Permanent link

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    Xarene     Tue, Jul 10, 2007  Permanent link
    Well you can't drop out with only one year left... you've been through 3/4...

    Do independent studies. Make up a course with someone who you feel can point you in the right directions and do what you want. Knowledge is everywhere. That's my strategy since I've faced the same problem as you.

    Yes, universities are based off of centuries old models of master-apprentice. And like you pointed out, knowledge was not accessible anywhere else but academia so the professor, really was a master compared to everyone else in society.

    Maybe one problem is fear of, or resistance to change, and maybe even laziness in needing to change. (ie, "This class syllabus has worked before and I've taught it this way the past five years. It'll be too much work to change it...")

    Maybe another problem is the superstar status of some faculty, and how the departments feed off of that and boast about it in all their literature, and it trickles to how students exacerbate it by praising faculty because they've been told the faculty are the Shit. Then they all feel like they're the Shit and the faculty make them say and do as they please because who are the little minion students to question them. Then students like you get bored.
    alborz     Tue, Jul 10, 2007  Permanent link
    One of my classes in college was taught by a man who'd repeatedly say that undergraduates had nothing new to say - that only when we got to graduate school would we have the academic skills and knowledge to have new and worthwhile ideas. Needless to say, this was quite annoying. However, strangely enough, despite this the class turned out to be one of the two or three best classes I had in college. One of the few where I'm still using what I learned on a daily basis.

    Basically, I'm torn on academia. Perhaps more on this later...
    meganmay     Tue, Jul 10, 2007  Permanent link
    interesting...but how can you ever be sure you won't be poorly programmed? (although you don't seem to have been poorly programmed, so i have to assume this man was dispensing something of value)...
    folkert     Tue, Jul 10, 2007  Permanent link
    You won't be poorly programmed because you will get your ass kicked by several people in your direct environment when they notice even the slightest hint of such a thing. That might be a privileged situation, but who cares, I say take the place for whatever its got, use the system to do projects you want to do and run with the money.
    folkert     Sat, Jul 14, 2007  Permanent link
    Hey Megan check out this one:
    Academic Lobotomy: The Public Slowly Becomes Aware
    richard     Sun, Jul 22, 2007  Permanent link
    Megan, maybe you should take some classes that may not seem obvious to take. Like a math class! or a biology class! You won't be forced to read a bunch of academic theories in those classes... or take a computer programming class!

    I see what you mean though... but I think that you can still make the university useful to you.
    meganmay     Mon, Jul 23, 2007  Permanent link
    RIIIIIchard, i dig the suggestions, the only problem is the system has me pinned in a corner so that i'll only get the credits i need to graduate from upper div clases outside my major...and the science classes are only offered in a linear track...which i've never fully jumped on board's all good though, there are benefits to reap.

    PS: Folkert, glad to know you got my back (or should i say my mind). and indeed, this year i'll do my best to take their money and run with it.

    (just for the record, the dropping out part was mostly for dramatic effect.)
    feanne     Wed, Dec 12, 2007  Permanent link
    O hai wonderful thoughts, thank you for sharing!

    I totally feel you on the "academia gives students way too little credit" bit, and also on the dustiness and rigidity of the bulk of academic writing. I'm supposed to digest this??? I find myself thinking when I read those handouts. I'm in support of clarity and conciseness, please check out this blog
    for more about user-friendliness and simplicity of design. In particular,


    I love your posts Megan, I probably have a girl crush on you now. ♥ More power to you!
    Cristian     Wed, Dec 12, 2007  Permanent link
    I think many of us have been trough the same experience, where ever you are studying.

    When I was in my second year and I remember I wanted to quit Graphic Design (GD), studying art history (the experience of different really old guys, what this or this or this other person ones said), doing structures with materials, visiting old printers, etc... I thought it was not for me, and I was doing something that I will regret in the future. But one of my teachers had a really good eye, I talked to him and he helped me with my own likes, so I could get interested in an honest way for the first time in the career. Now I love all of those things that are related to GD, I believe I had to give them the right direction with my own interests at the time.

    The thing is that, you could probably drop out (I know now that it was just a dramatic scenario), but if you have a year left, what is the point?... finish the experience, every experience (good or bad) there are some things you can get some knowledge from ("with experience you become a master", - or something like that - someone said). But truly the important thing is to find your interest, in any way, this comes in hand with independent projects or personal motivations. In the end sometimes a career can be based probably 30% in academic knowledge and 70% in practise/love.

    This has something to do with DIY probably. Anyway, just a thought.
    kruhiu77     Wed, Dec 12, 2007  Permanent link
    Academia has its ups and downs what can be said is that in this world the definite answer is to take your education into your own hands.

    Often has the mistake been made that only in classrooms can real knowledge be born. ( I know incredibly cliché)

    But this has been the only advice I've seen work. Take a year off or maybe even not graduate what i do find to be the problem is many of my generation without a definite idea what they plan to do for the rest of their lives. These folish sheep are luled into the time and money vacum that is college hoping that their future will find them and all will end well.

    Bottom line i hate this undeclared business
    alborz     Fri, Dec 14, 2007  Permanent link
    Many a poor sore-eyed student that I have heard of would grow faster, both intellectually and physically, if, instead of sitting up so very late, he honestly slumbered a fool's allowance.
    ~ Henry David Thoreau

    (I've been reading the hell out of Thoreau - something I was never required to do in school - thanks to this site.)