"The history of American school reform helps us see what has made reform so ineffective. Reformers have continually tried to impose social missions on schools and then failed to accomplish them, because consumers – the families who send children to school – have had something entirely different in mind. Consumers have wanted schools to allow them to accomplish goals that are less noble socially but more resonant personally: to get ahead and stay ahead. The school system, I argue, emerged as the unintended consequence of these consumer preferences, expressed through the cumulative choices made by families trying to fortify the future of their children through the medium of schooling. In short, the vision of education as a private good (formed by the self interested actions of individual consumers) has consistently won out over education as a public good (formed by the social aims of reform movements). At the same time, consumers have pushed the system in contradictory directions because they want sharply different benefits from it. Throughout the history of American education, some consumers have demanded greater access to school in order to climb the social ladder while others have demanded greater advantage from school in order to protect themselves from these same social climbers. Obligingly, the school system has let us have it both ways, providing access and advantage, promoting equality and inequality."
"I retired from university in 1991; I was 58-years-old and realized at that time that the teaching process was changing. In the twenty years since, I have seen the teaching model change. The technologizing of the classroom, grade inflation and student evaluations are shaping the professor and the classroom experience. You are liked or you are not liked. The student enters the classroom tied to a cell phone, I-Pad or laptop. The current professor steps into a consumer market place classroom in which control has shifted from professor to student. The classroom has become a much more complex place and new PhDs, seldom are taught to teach, but must now also be able to cope with Blackboard, 24/7 on demand contact, and a learning environment shaped to a great extent on access to information rather than to the acquisition of knowledge. The notion or philosophy that all is searchable is counterproductive to the teaching/learning process. The danger of the technological classroom and its accompanying attitude is that the teacher may be transformed from an intimate and “immediate” mentor to an abstract and distant tour guide."
"How can the truth prevail? The answer (which gives some ground for hope) is that people interested in ideas, and prepared to think them through and express them regardless of personal disadvantage, have always been few; and if knowledge could not advance without a majority on the right side, there would never have been any progress at all – because it has always been easier to get into the limelight, as well as to make money, by charlatanry, doctrinarism, sycophancy and soothing or stirring oratory than by logical and fearless thinking. No, the reason why human understanding has been able to advance in the past, and may do so in the future, is that true insights are cumulative and retain their value regardless of what happens to their discoverers; while fads and stunts may bring an immediate profit to the impresarios, but lead nowhere in the long run, cancel each other out, and are dropped as soon as their promoters are no longer there (or have lost the power) to direct the show."
— Stanislav Andreski, Social Sciences as Sorcery
"One had to cram all this stuff into one’s mind, whether one liked it or not. This coercion had such a deterring effect that, after I had passed the final examination, I found the consideration of any scientific problems distasteful to me for an entire year…It is in fact nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty. To the contrary, I believe that it would be possible to rob even a healthy beast of prey of its voraciousness, if it were possible, with the aid of a whip, to force the beast to devour continuously, even when not hungry - especially if the food, handed out under such coercion, were to be selected accordingly."
— Albert Einstein, Examining in Harvard College
"MOOCs are a kind of entertainment media. We are living in an age of para-educationalism: TED Talks, “big idea” books, and the professional lecture circuit have reconfigured the place of ideas (of a certain kind) in the media mainstream. Flattery, attention, the appeal of celebrity, the aspiration to become a member of a certain community, and other triumphs of personality have become the currency of thinking, even as anti-intellectualism remains ascendant. MOOCs buttress this situation, one in which the professor is meant to become an entertainer more than an educator or a researcher. The fact that MOOC proponents have even toyed with the idea of hiring actors to present video lectures only underscores the degree to which MOOCs aspire to reinvent education as entertainment."
"What we suffer from today is humility in the wrong place. Modesty has moved from the organ of ambition. Modesty has settled upon the organ of conviction; where it was never meant to be. A man was meant to be doubtful about himself, but undoubting about the truth; this has been exactly reversed. Nowadays the part of a man that a man does assert is exactly the part he ought not to assert - himself. The part he doubts is exactly the part he ought not to doubt - the Divine Reason. Huxley preached a humility content to learn from Nature. But the new sceptic is so humble that he doubts if he can even learn… The old humility was a spur that prevented a man from stopping; not a nail in his boot that prevented him from going on. For the old humility made a man doubtful about his efforts, which might make him work harder. But the new humility makes a man doubtful about his aims, which will make him stop working altogether."
— G.K. Chesteron, Orthodoxy