Archives for category: Academia

I wrote this draft nearly a year ago (2009-11-28) and just unearthed it. So, I’m going to post it without edits. And add some new thoughts below.

For nearly a decade now I have wanted a PhD. I know this sounds strange, I mean wanting a PhD like I crave a favorite food dish or a particularly lovely new piece of technology. The point is however, that I thought the PhD was really important, it meant that I could reach a particular point in my intellectual travels. The PhD had specific conntations of who I wanted to be and where I would be. Now I don’t think the same way. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to study and receive a PhD, but it does mean that I have changed how and where I place importance in my work/research. Let me Explain.

I saw a film recently, it was called Tum Mile, it was a bollywood piece and it wasn’t too briliant. The film did however feature at least one interesting line and it was spoken by the male protagonist, a self confessed artist: “I make my art for the common person”. Now, while I hate the words ‘common person’, I can see what the character means, in his context he is speaking of making art that isn’t for fellow artists, art critics of gallery people, who think of art as a business or as ‘high’ culture, he wants his art to speak to everybody else. In this way I am the same, I want to transform and change myself and others, which also feature in magic, but we’re not going there, yet. I have moved from caring about the needs and interests of academia, which is loosely thought of as the lecturers, professors and students in a high tower separated from the rest of the world, only talking to each other about how their work changes the world but never actually getting involved in changing the world, or trying to live in it. These reasons also seem to be why academia hasn’t been badly effected by any economic downturns but we can get into that later, and in another piece.

Now, where was I? I place meaning, and direct my research to something academia calls the ‘public’ outside  the tower .

The Philosopher, A C Graying has said numerous times that philosophers have to communicate their ideas and views to a wider public if they are to ave any importance. He even takes it further, he thinks that it is the philosopher’s role to communicate, share and educate everybody they can, breaking the barriers of academia and not, which only disadvantage all concerned.

I am currently finishing my MPhil, and do not want to pursue a PHD right now. In the year since I’ve written the above, my thoughts on life have changed, resulting in the fact that most of what I want to do now is not myopically limited by the PhD. I want to venture into other things, and other realms without thinking that my life and career don’t start until I have a PhD. Maybe in the future I will find something I really want to dedicate to a PhD. We’ll see. For now though, look forward to me annoucing and doing other things.

I’d like to say the Future’s bright…

This (Quotes and thoughts from this post on functional illiteracy):

“im emailing u because i need a grade from you on my progress report tomorrow or else i cant play sat if you could do that i would gladly appreciate it….also while i was looking at my grades on blackboard i saw a E for the folk and religious music quiz…i was wondering did i miss that day or did i just not get any points on the quiz”

Is an example of this:

“According to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 4th graders in the United States tested behind Hong Kong, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Kazakstan, the Russian Federation, England, Latvia, the Netherlands, and Lithuania in mathematics achievement, and behind Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, Russian Federation, Latvia, and England in science achievement. “

While literacy is not science achievement, it is a worrying correlation that America spend the same amount of money and time on students and their achievements are sliding.

Which is why the next bit seems key, and I think phenomenon in Britain also:

“the disturbing trend among 21st-century students where learning is seen as a passive endeavour — they show up, sit there, what else do they need to do? Not to mention their inability to function in face-to-face situations, their lack of respect for authority, and their dependence on technology to the point of obsession (facebook, texting — to the point where whole papers are written in textspeak — no commas, no apostrophes, no capitalizations).”

Maybe I’m old, and cranky beyond my age, but I want to be a good ancestor, and I want to be part of a system where education, and its uses are important.

Also, does it strike anybody else as perhaps related that the student in the quote says he can’t play on ‘sat’, which I presume is Saturday, and not an SAT test he can ‘play’, which means he’s at college in America for sport. Might explain the bad literacy, which is also sad.

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