Friday, 12 November 2010

Are Lecturers Being Dunces Over Public Service Cutbacks?

Whilst it is understandable for any group of employees to try and defend their positions and income it seems rather ill-judged for lecturers to implicitly condone the reckless behaviour of the vandals at Goldsmiths by suggesting that:

"The real violence in this situation relates not to a smashed window but to the destructive impact of the cuts." 

There are logical problems with the deliberate use of English in their statement. They have isolated an act from its context. The smashed window was part of episodes of aggressive behaviour. It was an act borne out of generative mechanism relating to a set of ideas that condone the use of violence to make a point. It downplays the significance and meaning of the act.

The claim above also suggests that breaking windows is analogous to a management process that (whether well judged or not) is re-structuring processes and monies. Nothing in that process is being physically broken. Now I've been there, in the commercial world where for whatever reason my job was under threat. I've lost my job and it is not a pleasant experience. Did I go the merchant banks that I thought played a significant part in that experience and smash their windows? No. I faced up to the situation and moved on.

I am there now. As an academic I believe that people have a right to access Higher Education. I believe that the country should invest in HE as the R&D department of UK plc too, and it has to be investment that is valued. of course axiological judgements will be made, and that is how the issue should be debated. What do we as a society value and what is valued in our Higher Education experience and output.  That said Higher Education doesn't simply have a right to exist because it is Higher Education. It needs to provide true value (epistemologically, pedagogically and practically) and that value has a value that is worth paying for by the people who study. The relativist agenda that suggests that all things are equal (except my point of view which is the best of all) is child like in its grasp of social reality.Some people might not be bright enough or financially capable of having HE. There should be mechanisms to help the exceptional not processes to facilitate the ordinary.

The violent tantrum of the students at Goldsmiths will, if they educate themselves, be realised as incapable of changing anything. It was a destructive act not a generative act. Where are the ideas for solving the problem of funding HE from these bright sparks? The lecturers who have supported the violence have done their students a disservice. They have endorsed a partial grasp of social reality, they have not encouraged imaginative thinking, they have not developed a true sense of critical thinking on and in the nature of HE provision.



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