2.17.2010

Recovering the "Uni" in University

A recent article (thanks, Monica) has inspired me with a "that'll never-happen," but perfectly reasonable, vision of an alternative kind of education.

In the future I see, some universities will genuinely be marketplaces of ideas. You will see Christian departments, and Biology departments, and Buddhist departments, and Astrology departments. Students will be required to take general-education courses in each of those departments. So 100-level courses will be theoretical, not experiential. In those classes, professors will offer "previews" of what kinds of experiences students will get in upper-level courses.
BIOLOGY 110: Students will hear a great deal about the scientific method, and will hear about Charles Darwin and see some Powerpoint presentations showing statistics gathered from fruit-fly breeding experiments. Students will not do any biology.

BUDDHISM 108: Students will gain familiarity with the major concepts of Buddhism, including a good foundation in the terminology. Students may listen to an interview with a Buddhist, or read personal narratives written by Buddhists, etc. Students will not do any Buddhism.
After completing their general education requirements, students will choose a path. Some will go off to be scientists, thinking never again of that wishy-washy stuff about "souls" and "self" and so on. Others will go do Zen meditation in 300 and 400 level courses, actively trying to see through what they are discovering to be the illusions taught by other departments.

Anything short of this model, and what we have are simply "schools," and not UNI-versities.

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