Sunday, April 17, 2005


Arnold Kling (at is off on the Reformation discussion again for higher education. His thesis is that higher education, like the church before the reformation, has a series of taxes (tuitions) and odd theologies(political correctness) that the majority of people are beginning to reject. That falls in line with people like Dennis Prager who has advocated that people do not send their children to college - simply let them have a year or two out of high school and then send them to the cheapest one possible.

The critics' reading of history is not very good. Indeed, the reformation was first and foremost about corrective ideas suggestions that could help an important institution in society to be better. Luther was trying to get his colleagues to think differently. There are a lot of things different about this situation. First is monopoly - the church in Luther's time had a monopoly - but higher education, even traditional higher education does not. Look at the proprietaries and the range of non-traditional institutions and you can see change. Even look to some of the traditional ones - change is coming. The best are looking for better ways to meet this generation of students and the next generation of knowledge. Kling talks about the wide availability of knowledge but look no further than the Leavey library at USC to see how great universities are thinking differently about how knoweldge is used. Go down the lane a bit to the labratory sites and see how the transmission of knowledge is changing.

Then think about technology - Luther's quest was to change an institution and to, in essence, restore a theology. But the widely available net that we have today was not then - does Kling think that this will not influence the academy? There are other forces at work too - wider in society that will affect higher education.

Institutions that celebrate their major events in ancient costumes are slow to change - but just because the robes are still there, and just because there are people like Ward Churchill - does not mean we are not adjusting to the new realities.

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