Canards about the University: Three Orthodoxies

Earlier today, Natalia Cecire posted a remarkable intervention into the current debates about higher education on Twitter. She wrote:

@ncecire: Three orthodoxies. 1. There is a “skills gap,” meaning young people aren’t getting enough high-level education.

@ncecire: 2. We need far more teaching than we can possibly provide, which means we need MOOCs. 3. Far too many people are getting Ph.D.s.

My first response to this was to be thrilled, and to send her the link to my first post in this series, which interrogates her number 3 above.  What I appreciated, initially, was how I felt she’d captured something fundamental about the incoherence of the current state of the conventional wisdom, and I told her as much. But the more I think about it, the more I’m tempted to reformulate these slightly, or at least to ask after the conditions under which they frame not an inconsistent, but rather a consistent way of thinking.

Read the rest of this entry »