Twofish's Blog

November 29, 2006

Starting some fires

Filed under: academia, massachusetts institute of technology, wikipedia — twofish @ 4:15 am

The question that I’d like to pose, and which student government plays a key role is this. Does the rigid class structure in academia make any sense? I claim that it doesn’t. The other question is “Is the rigid class structure of academia spreading to society as a whole with bad social consequences?” and I claim the answer to this question is yes.

Academia has a very rigid class structure that resembles medieval nobility with professors at the top and undergraduates at the bottom. But in a world of “lifetime learning” does this make any sense? As far as 3-d visualization goes, I’m an undergraduate. Once you question the division between “teachers” and “students” and realize that being a teacher and being a student are situational roles that can switch, then a lot of other
questions open themselves up. In a K-99 world, what is the role of student government?

The interesting things about rigid class structures is that the people at the top often don’t benefit from them. In the brief conversations I was having with Dean Margaret MacVicar my senior year, I think she began to realize how powerless she really was, and was trying to reach out to the UA. She was talking in terms of having students play a role in determining curriculum, and that completely changes the power structure of MIT.

There are a lot of deep and scary questions here. I think the questions that  I’d like to pose are much too scary for people within the Institute to even think about, but since I’m half outside, and have a vested interest in destroy the power structure rather than joining it, I have some freedom to pose them.

And it’s a good thing to ask scary questions. Every communications technology has brought massive changes in power structures and there is no reason to think that the internet will be any different. There is a need to question some of the basic fundamentals aspects of MIT, especially those elements that separate academic-haves from academic-have nots, and dangers in not asking these questions.

Anyway its going to take years if not decades for these processes to work themselves out. I’m just starting some fires.

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