Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Closed System of Academia

[Painting of Plato]
On Snaphanen yesterday a story was referenced from Danmarks Radio about a new Ph.D. thesis that explains how we are voting – namely that the length of our education is decissive for where we put our vote and the longer the education, the more likely the vote is going to either the extreme left or the multi-cultural parties.

Well without being a Ph.D. I could have told the same thing, it's been obvious from centuries if not from the Dawn of Man, that people are generally seeking like minds and the parties that the "highly educated" people are voting for is the parties that is being built by people with high educations and with a majority of highly educated people in them. But it is also the political parties that are most out of touch with what is going on in reality and is living under the illusion that reality must conform to their ideological or intellectual ideas of a perfect society... theories that have been created and rehashed over and over again on the finest universities in the world... so how can they be wrong?

Well for starters, most of the highly educated people and politicians have lives a rather sheltered life – Reality is something you read about in a book, and not something that needs to be experienced! And likewise the perfect society can be described in a study and released as a thesis, that is neatly wrapped and contains all the right answers without having to check the contents of the thesis with reality, rather check it against previous work in the field!

In a way academics today are living such a sheltered life that they believe their books and thesis' more than reality, reality is often a big mess, complex, and not very easy to describe in simple terms, thus let us reduce reality to some simple models and fit our perception on reality to these simplified models! There is nothing wrong with this as it can help clarify certain aspects of reality, but if you forget to check the model against reality or completely abandon reality and believe that you have the perfect solution to all kinds of problems solely based on models of reality then there is a big problem: delusion!

And delusions are thriving within the academic world, there are so-called experts on every imaginable subject, that loves to talk long and hard on their speciality and also often have a very P.C. solution to just about everything. The P.C. part comes from the "indoctrination" in schools, college and universities where P.C. behavior and thinking is becoming more and more the norm and non-P.C. thinking and behavior is scorned. And with academics with little experience of life outside the academic circles they hardly know anything else.

In days gone past it was considered a good thing for an academic to be well versed in many different issues that had little to do with their chosen field. It was considered a good thing to wait a year or two after college to travel the world, have a regular job or generally get some other experiences than school before starting university... Not anymore, there is a pressure on young people to go directly from school to university and not "waste" any time getting their degree. Likewise in Denmark (at least) it used to be (until 1971) mandatory to take a course called Examen philosophicum irregardless of what your speciality were – to get a broader knowledge of general areas within academia and the philosophy-history behind our culture in a way to place education within context. Today we don't have that and academia have lost their sense of context to the sense that all the disciplines of education is not helping to pull the society together in a certain way, but pulling it apart by pulling each in their own way. And at the same time is struggling to find their own sense of context again, however, this time not as being part of society as a whole, instead by defining it solely upon the world of academics, in a closed little world of its own.

So I believe that the main problem is that the academia is becoming a closed system, with limited knowledge of the world outside the academic circles, and the ideologies that thrive in this closed system is high-flying theories and ideologies that have time and again proven to be not working in the real world, no matter how good they sound on paper, such as P.C.-ism, Marxism, Communism, Multi-Culturalism, Cultural-Relativism, etc.

I don't have the solutions to this, but maybe some partial ones: I believe that something like the Examen philosophicum should be re-introduced as mandatory with a curiculum of giving the students a broad introduction to the history, philosophies and values of our culture, as to give them an anchor in which they can see the perspective of their society and culture and a sense of purpose in their education, instead of drifting to and fro. I also believe that it is a mistake to pressure young people to go directly from school to college to university, without taking a break and experience the life outside of schools, and it should also be encouraged that students have some real work experience before graduating from university – and not just student-jobs but real life jobs, meeting people from other walks of life and building a network that isn't just confined to academia!


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