Universities Are Dead: Let’s Bury Their Corpses & Begin Anew

Universities Are Dead: Let’s Bury Their Corpses & Begin Anew
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The purposes of a university are to pass on knowledge and to provide a refuge in which to conduct scholarship. That’s it, and nothing more.

Nowadays scholarship is called “research”, the former word sounding staid and unfruitful. The problem is the latter word boisterous and is only too fruitful. More and more “research” is produced, the pace always increasing. Unread journals warehousing this research litters libraries. Much research is harmful, and the expected pace of it guarantees that a lot of it will be false. Worth is judged by quantity over quality, because money.

Knowledge is, we need to remind ourselves, our perception of true things. You can go to a TV station or corporate seminar and have propaganda passed on to you. Or to any Studies course, or any college course that has become woke—or infatuated with research. Propaganda is a mixture of truths, exaggerations, and purposeful lies of commission and omission.

Knowledge is also that which relates to our lives of the mind. Practical truths, like how to use a spoke shave or dig a well or design an internal combustion engine, are surely forms of knowledge, but one should not go to university to study these. One becomes (or should become) an apprentice, because these are all truths having to do with actions of the body. Actions of the mind is scholarship. Students are also, or should be, apprentices. But working for a different end.

This restriction to passing on knowledge to bolster lives on the mind is why university should be an undertaking only for a few, only those able to endure scholarship. Right now, about two out of three kids go to college. It should be one in twenty or thirty, maybe fewer.

If one’s goal is only “research” or to learn some other practice skill, universities are not needed, and indeed cause active harm. How much benefit over harm depends on how seeped in politics the subject is and how much distraction from the skill is mandated.

Most kids go to university to earn a “degree”, a certification showing they are worthy for work, the skills of which they will learn, not at university, but at the job. In other words, university is a filter for certain apprenticeships. What a needless waste of time and resources!

But those employers who require a “degree” are somewhat restrained because of the need for Diversity quotas, and to prove they are not “discriminating”. Which of course they are, because otherwise they would not require the “degree”. Employers are thus working off the loose, and increasingly looser, correlation that the worst possible apprentices don’t have “degrees”. As soon as all kids go to college, the correlation drops to zero. Employers would then, to get around Diversity, have to up or change their requirement. Perhaps by insisting on “masters degrees”.

You see, of course, that to require of a degree because Diversity also ensures universities increase the ratio of propaganda to knowledge. And why corporations become woker and woker over time, as their ranks are filled with the unable. It is a vicious negative feedback.

Which can only be ended by some tumult.

One guy is saying—and I agree, but think it unlikely–defund universities (even progressives nostalgic for the old ways are saying this). It is the only thing that can save them.

Higher education had a cluster of related purposes in society. Everyone benefited from the new knowledge it developed and the well-informed, thoughtful citizenry it produced. Individual students benefited from the preparation they received for careers in a developed economy. Yet these days, academia has decided that its primary purpose is the promotion of a radical political ideology, to which it gives the sunny label “social justice.”

Strangely, the gentleman did not remark on the main purpose of the university, which is not to create “new knowledge”, but to pass on the old knowledge. The research bug bites us all.

Anyway, we can’t but agree with this: “When academia’s astonishing message to society is, ‘We’ll take your money, but we’ll do with it what we want, not what you want,’ the response ought to be simple: ‘No you won’t.'”

It won’t be, though. None of us are naive to think we can stem the flow of money into STEM, and to universities in general. Yes, the coming demographic crunch will slice the arteries of some institutions, but the remaining will continue in the same vein (happening now, though this whiny person thinks universities are for jobs training, which is what high school was supposed to be).

Our only hope is to create our own. I still like my network of independent scholars idea.

Meanwhile, let us end with these two terrific threads. Which are must reading.

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  1. Nuke them from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

  2. joe nimbus

    There should be a law passed saying that any university that requires you to take any course outside your major is defuned and the ceos, presidents, etc. of the university jailed, and that any corporation requiring you have a degree from a university that requires courses outside your major be broken up and scattered to the winds. Something like that.

  3. On this subject you may wish to look at my predictions on “The Future of Education” – winface.com/node/17

    Bottom line: positive change on the way.

  4. Whitney

    Those Twitter threads are interesting and mirror my personal experience. I read a lot of non fiction books from the 40s and 50s, which seems to be the high-water mark of intellectual achievement among the mass of people, and the knowledge requirements are beyond mine. I frequently have to look up Latin Greek French and German quotes which are not translated just quoted as if everyone already knew it and other things I have to look up that appear to just be general knowledge 70 years ago or so.

  5. Forbes

    Education–primary, secondary, higher–is a jobs program for partisan voting constituencies who warehouse children in order to alleviate parents of day care responsibilities (so that two parents can work the taxpayer treadmill), and indoctrinate students with goodthink (Orwell), resulting in the requisite socialization.

    Any learning–knowledge acquisition and subject-matter mastery–is incidental to attendance.

  6. Uncle Mike

    The purposes of a university are to pass on knowledge and to provide a refuge in which to conduct scholarship. That’s it, and nothing more.

    Dear Dr. Briggs,

    You know I love you, but that statement is very wrong. Your vision of what a university ought to be is medieval. The modern fact of today is that colleges and universities are where young adults go to meet and couple up.

    Human biology dictates that boy must meet girl and vice versa for the species to perpetuate. That biological imperative is written in the genes. Knowingly or not, willingly or not, the youth are chemically (via essential hormones) commanded by their DNA reproduction processes.

    They must meet, and today the meeting arena is post-high school campuses and immediate environs. This dance has to be done in person — not over the Internet from the parents’ basement. Which is why zoom school networking will NEVER work, misses the entire point, and is dysfunctional in the extreme.

    Yes, education today is a wokejoke. Yes, Academia today is a dumpster fire. The only thing that keeps the crumbling ivory towers from total ruin is basic biology and the need to seed. Your scheme has merit in some respects, but if you are not providing a physical space for coupling up, it will fail because that’s the whole purpose today.

  7. Johnno

    We should also think about whether the systems we call high schools and elementary schools matter either.

    But don’t worry, as Stossel pointed out little while back, all the degrees and letter chasers are demanding that the trades people completely pay for their useless education.

    The deplorable plumbers, electricians, brick layers, welders, carpenters, etc. must fork over their income so that the woke may further pursue even higher levels of awakening.

  8. Dr K.A. Rodgers

    What has changed? “The average Ph.D. thesis is nothing but a transference of bones from one graveyard to another.” Frank Dobie on British universities c. ?1945.

  9. MatiG

    Hyperinflation will fix that.

  10. Brian (bulaoren)

    At least the prisons are still doing their job;
    “School of crime”

  11. Dean Ericson

    Uncle Mike, that reminds me; in Restoration University — no chicks.

  12. Chaeremon

    Inventing new universities is like inventing a permanent station on the moon without having invented the appropriate tools. Rule #0: There are no monocausal (rejecting wokism here) anthropogenetic qualities of humans that “we” understand. But we must understand the consequences of anthropogenetic qualities, unless (e.g.) we tolerate Hamas bombs being dropped on Tel Aviv. Rule #1: understanding is not the same as reading some pictorial metaphors inscribed on obelisks. @Briggs, please list irreducible anthropogenetic qualities and outline their consequences [the ones you may have studied]. @Uncle Mike has already shown one of them.

  13. Jan Van Betsuni

    “Our” Universities today are largely dependencies of the Federal Government. Reliant almost solely upon Federal monetary largesse in the form of Student Loans ~ and Research Grants. As such, so long as the dollar-waters continue to fall from up high on Capitol Hill, the Higher Education establishment will continue gathering these in buckets ‘with glee’; all substantial institutional changes eschewed. Some may disagree, pointing out that televised college Football and Basketball games nowadays fund much of America’s tertiary education budgets. There is some truth to this. However, if the point of Colleges & Universities is to provide athletic competition spectacles, then perhaps we should revert to calling them Gymnasiums ????????? as in ancient Greece. [These “places” are of course also critical seedbeds of species propagation (or “selective” breeding) as Uncle Mike humorously limelights.] I suspect ONE other Achilles Heel to THE SYSTEM ~ is its ability to deliver employment opportunity. If the main way to earn a buck becomes coding “python script (s)” ~ then general education can finish at 12 y.o.a. ~ and our boys can start code-string production as puberty hits. Everything goes virtual at that point.

  14. My son did poorly in HS, and has absolutely no intention of going to college. I’m so proud. His cousin, on the other hand, is extremely smart, gets straight As, and is bound for college where he will be taught to be a fool. Poor kid.
    There are some alternatives popping up like https://www.american-scholars.com, Hillsdale (which isn’t actually new), Ralston College in Georgia.

  15. Briggs

    Brad W

    Heard anything about that American Scholars?

  16. I hear people complaining about Universities, but I never hear anyone putting forward a practical alternative: to set up our own Universities. More specifically, to set up a research University aimed at encouraging older people to do & publish research.

    This is relatively easy to do, because there is no need to follow the present pattern of masters or PhD, and there is no legal way to stop people issuing “degrees” or at least “qualifications” of equivalent merit.

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