*we put the "mmm" in communism


This is the personal blog of Tim. Here, Tim writes on anything he has enough inspiration to finish a post on. That usually ends up being matters of science, pop culture, technology, religion, and philosophy.

This blog is around nine years old, which is over a third of Tim's current age. Back in 2003, it was called "Of Tim: Tim's life - or lack thereof", and it was as bad as you might expect the blog of a freshman in high school to be. Tim hopes that his writing is a little better, these days.

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This first week of classes at IC has been amusing on a number of counts, primarily in what I observe in other students, as well as in the teachers.

The whole environment seems to ooze this aura of academic enlightenment. That is, the teachers seem keenly aware that they're being looked to for enlightening ideas, and the students seem eager to show that they're internalizing this enlightenment. There's this sense that education - namely, this education - is the saving grace of the world, that this institution is a bastion against the ever-rampant forces of ignorance, and that within these walls, salvation might be found that cannot be seen elsewhere in the world, all for a mere $40,000 per semester. Enlightenment isn't free, silly.

If you hadn't guessed, I'm just a little skeptical, and perhaps a bit cynical, too. Thus far, I'm thoroughly enjoying my classes and it's good to be around people my age for once. Still, I find myself smirking. Very few of my teachers have held any job outside of academia, but they espouse their subjects of choice with such zeal that one would think they found the solution to their life's problems in the subject matter they're disclosing. Similarly, the students (and teachers) around me seem impossibly homogeneous, intellectually. I understand enough of sociology to know that birds of a feather flock together, socio-economically, but the similarity in thought and expression between my peers is, well, frightening. One student poses a neatly packaged answer to the professor's question from a classic postmodern relativist standpoint, and five others follow suit to affirm over the next twenty minutes. Professors seem to fancy themselves as avant-garde by tossing in some burns on conservative politics, or by declaring their disdain for standardized testing. It seems like a very expensive celebration of our world-view, rather than anything particularly challenging.

It's not so much that I disagree with their statements (though I do, particularly with the students), but I find it all more distracting than anything else. I appreciate the effort put into being challenging, in offering new and surprising views of the world that I've never encountered before - but I'm starting to doubt that I will find that here. The lack of genuine variety in methodology or thought processes seems inescapable - what else would one find in a college that fosters a culture of semi-subtle elitism?

It's not nearly so bad as all that, and much of what I'm saying is conjecture at this point - I've only just had a week of classes, after all. But my gut is usually quite good at identifying such patterns.

"Education is a kind of continuing dialogue, and a dialogue assumes, in the nature of the case, different points of view."
Robert Hutchins
posted by MC Froehlich at
Blogger Karen Holly said...
Maybe if you try offering a differing point of view, you'll find that other people also disagree with what the other kids are saying. One thing I noticed about my freshmen level courses was tht kids not used to a college-style forum were really hesitant to say anything in disagreement with the teacher or what other students had said, since they haven't gotten it through their skulls that multiple points of view are required to form a discussion, which is what the teacher really wants.

Or in short, try disagreeing and see what happens =)

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