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Re: <nettime> Re: Re: New Media Education and Its Discontent
Are Flagan on Wed, 8 Oct 2003 00:05:47 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Re: Re: New Media Education and Its Discontent

Re: 10/6/03 22:02, "trebor scholz" <treborscholz {AT} earthlink.net>:

> While the style of your text is characterized by the super-confidence that
> has much in common with what drives the world to despair of America, it also
> sounds a bit too much like "Europeans and intellectuals are old fashioned
> anti-American snobs."

Au contraire, Trebor. Ted actually, and very handsomely, gets to some of
the core issues. Your arguments have come from the faculty lounge since
time immemorial and are a staple keynote diet of just about every teacher
conference. (Where they always get a 3-minute standing ovation.) Look
through, for example, some old copies of New Art Examiner and you'll see
the same suggestions reappearing almost verbatim over the years. (Just
skip the stuff on the MFA pyramid scheme that they ran 3/4 years back --
it'll honestly just confuse and depress you, unless you continue to ignore
or suppress it as you do.) Frankly, there are too many black holes in what
you put forward to even approach one without getting sucked into your
infinitely worthy gravitas of educating, according to your own accredited
state mandate, citizens, and free-for-themselves-thinking, according to
your own educated thought, intellectuals. Bottom line: Socrates still has
eternal tenure in the ghostly ways of your world -- while most students
already suspect that the soapbox is wobbly.

To move on: What both you and Ted quickly skip over is the overarching --
imagine double arches here -- bang for buck philosophy of student
"consumers." How about customers, then? And what is this fear of, to use
this new word, customer evaluations? Trebor suggests they curtail courage
on the part of the instructor to actually unload what is required and
needed. In other words, if the guiding light does not follow the dark path
of least resistance, it is cruelly punished for always knowing better by
those unaware of their own ignorance. The problems, now doubling as the
solutions, start mounting when it is blatantly obvious that this best
interest really returns to the cadre of arbiters who are mostly
preoccupied with passing off their own primary asset, their aging
education, as that of others, in this case the buck-passers. If the bang
is simply the lingering stench of an old fart, it is thus not at all a
shitty product but actually the finest perfume of acculturated knowledge.
Please, do get a whiff of that.

Before the accusations of contempt for the academic courtship rituals
start flourishing again, let me hand out some true flattery and a teacher
of the year award. I only met this person for a conversation once, but he
made one offhand comment at that time which, partly, explained to me why
his student evaluations were always completely off the chart in an
unprecedented way. And, it should be noted, he did not, to the best of my
knowledge, suck up to students by having them chew potato chips instead of
gargling stones to improve on their crafty rhetoric. At this, ok, private
Ivy League university, students perform their own class evaluations and
publish the results in a catalog. The A in the Q provided for each
class/teacher is graphically represented, and the student editors also
provide a short summary, again for each class, of additional comments
provided by the enrolled students. Without recalling every detail of the
godly praise, it was clear from the various columns filled with black ink
that Jesus could not have hoped for a better Word from his disciples.
Students *thoroughly* recommended these classes to their peers and
literally raved about the instructor's lecturing, his support of and
genuine interest in them, the class content, the course relevance seen
from the student perspective (ah, what do _they_ know?), etc.

The available secret? To paraphrase anonymous: "I sat down the other day
and actually worked out how much my students are paying per class session.
It certainly made me prepare even more and even better for class." To
spell it out further, in the terms already hinted at by the students, bang
for buck is basically the recognition of a symbolic _exchange_, including
a handover and not just the lopsided maintenance, of value in the
relationship between teacher and student. This is why your
readymade-for-teacher-conference aphorisms about "educators who educate
people to think for themselves" stink of the implicit move toward
intellectual narrowing and oppression that in turn invokes your frequent
anti-intellectual charge.

Perhaps, and this is seriously worth considering, this expanded "bang for
buck" philosophy is the potential genius of any (I guess it has already
been dubbed both American and anti yet it may easily adopt more prefixes)
intellectualism? But where, indeed, does that leave your many discontents,
interspersed, as they are, with shameless plugs for Discordia?



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