I’ve been feeling depressed lately — partially because one of our cats has tendency to poo on the floor and we can’t figure out why. But it isn’t only that. Richard Gwyn recently wrote an article in the Star that made me realize it’s time to say goodbye to universities as we know them.
In his article, Gwyn suggests that university professors should not have tenure because they misuse it, and that they are overpaid anyway, and students learn better online.
Once I would have said: ’Hey, Richard, it isn’t the system that’s wrong, it’s the bad apples. Maybe some tenured professors are lazy and abuse the system. But that doesn’t mean the system itself is wrong. There are lots of car accidents, but have we decided to abolish roads?’
I have realized, finally, that this argument is based on a false analogy. The reason we don’t abolish roads is because roads serve a greater good. But what is the greater good of tenure?
Well, we used to think that the purpose of tenure was for professors at universities to do research. The idea was that if they were coming up with challenging ideas, then they should be paid for that, and not be in danger of being fired.
But the idea of universities as places for professors and students to do research is outdated. We now know that universities have one purpose and one purpose only: to prepare students for jobs. In fact universities of the future will probably have to guarantee that students get placements somewhere, or else close down.
You see the focus of our lives has changed (God knows what it was before!). We know now we should concentrate on feeding our children and improving our standard of living. In the past, discussions of what is ‘truth’ — or what is ‘good’ — mattered, because it was important for people to figure out how to make the world better place. Now we know that a better world just means a higher standard of living.
And if we have any other questions, Wikipedia will answer them. In olden days, university professors asked students to question the information they got from the web. But that’s complicated and it takes time. And the great thing about Wikipedia is that if you don’t like the information you find there, you can go online and change it. So now, truth is democratic.
Who cares what is good or bad, right or wrong, real or unreal, anyway? The important question is: how many people like it? How many thumbs up does it get on facebook or iTunes? If something is popular than most people are going to buy it, and that means you can sell it. This is really all that matters.
I want to apologise to all those people who read the articles I wrote defending universities in the past. I also want to apologize to all the students I bored with my hopeless attempts to get them to do what I called ‘critical thinking.’
I’m sorry about that. I always knew you kids didn’t want to think critically — so what was the point of putting you through all that stress? It’s very difficult to take every little bit of information you get from the web and try to figure out if it’s ‘accurate.’
I’m sorry I wasted your time.
Common sense is the wave of the future. Once only Tory politicians like Mike Harris believed in the importance of common sense — but now even NDP politicians like Andrea Horvath believe in it too.
Come on. We all just instinctively know what’s right and what’s wrong.We know in our heart of hearts how to act, and how to be. We just need to follow those ‘inner promptings.’ And universities are boring, snooty, elitist places where rich, effeminate, tenured professors earn fat salaries investigating nonsense. Unless universities prepare young people for jobs, they should be abolished.
I’m glad I finally figured it out.