Word of the day – Mediocracy & a video to match….

MEANING: noun: Rule by the mediocre.

ETYMOLOGY: A blend of mediocre + -ocracy (rule). Earliest documented use: 1845.

USAGE: “Why are gifted individuals always forced out by the mediocracy?” Christopher Fowler; The Victoria Vanishes; Bantam; 2008.

IDEAS: 

(I notice that comments are now disabled for the video, a shame because I would like to see if there was anybody who had anything positive to say.)

It reminds me of this:

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The Monday Morning Quote #454

“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, no one is entitled to his own facts.”

Daniel Patrick Moynihan

(via Michael Bungay Stanier)

 

 

The new reformation or just a course adjustment?

The university must be the site of the next Reformation – here’s why.

“Nevertheless, both students and their potential employers are led to believe that academic credentials confer on students that what they have learned at university constitutes knowledge that is more durable than it really is. And all of this is made possible simply because self-certifying “knowledgeable” people – in other words, academics – have said so…”

.”..The financial interest of academics in continuing to promote this idea – from the beleaguered lecturer to the over-remunerated vice chancellor – should be obvious. Perhaps only slightly less obvious is why students continue to believe it.”

This piece from “The Conversation” made me wonder (even more) about the role of universities now and in the future. Referring to universities as businesses and education as an industry as has happened over the past couple of decades has made me question the fundamentals of the need for universities in general and in particular in what I know best.

Should they be a “right of passage” or an extension of school or just a way of increasing the indebtedness of the individual and the country as a whole? Is the whole thing with massively expanding campuses, huge competition for students and vice-chancellors being feted with large salaries just an edifice waiting to implode? Has the expansion really improved the education of our young people or is it a way of moving them from 18 to 21 to keep them out of unemployment?

Only some of this is covered in Steve Fuller’s piece but it’s worth a read.

 

The Monday Morning Quote #453

“The Pub is the poor man’s University –

but only if you can escape from it.”

Irish saying

 

Post-Ophelia. Pre-Brian.

It has been quite a week at Rees Acres. We are used to wind and rain here on our hillside but I have not enjoyed/endured a storm like Ophelia before anywhere.

One of the joys of living here is the weather, in towns or cities you tend to be concerned with, “am I going to get wet walking to the car, bus, train or whilst on my bike”; here, a few miles from the Fastnet Rock I listen to the shipping forecast and know what’s going to happen. I can watch the rain clouds coming towards us, or see them pass and leave their contents on the land a mile or two away, knowing that our turn will come soon enough.

On nights where there is calm, but a storm is forecast, I can hear the noise of the sea passing up and over the hill behind our home. On clear nights the stars in the heavens are magnificent, with little light pollution to distract you.

We lost power for 24 hours or so, that’s long enough to be a novelty and quite enjoyable in many ways. With a wood burner, a gas hob and plenty of candles and batteries we were safe, warm and dry and well fed. Intermittent broadband is, in the grand scheme of things, a minor irritation and a very “first world” problem. Others, not far from here have been without power and water for close on five days, the people doing the repairs have had to stop because of the increasing winds so they will be without until Sunday at the earliest.

We feel as if we have more neighbours, more people who are looking out for us, who will miss us here in a sparsely populated area than we ever did when we lived in the middle of Cheltenham – but that may be my rose tinted specs!

The one memory that will stay with me, long after the logs from our five fallen trees have been used to heat our home, is of a funeral. On Tuesday evening at 8pm I could hear the local solitary church bell tolling, this meant that the coffin with the deceased was on its way to be left in the church for a funeral the following day. This “removal” followed the open coffin with the dead person having been laid out, probably in the undertakers premises, during the day. We have very few street lamps at the best of time, and on Tuesday there were none, so I was able to see the procession of cars from about a mile away. Led by the hearse, I counted more than 50 sets of headlights making stately, respectful progress from Skibbereen towards our parish church. The fact that all those people were willing and able to make the journey with the deceased, a 94 year old lady, says a lot. The majority of those, and scores more, would be at the funeral mass and burial the following day.

The Irish way of death is something that I am learning about gradually, I know it is legendary, or a perhaps a stereotype, but there is a lot to be said for the way that death is handled here.

The next storm, Brian, is arriving as I write and will be at its worst in 8 hours. Ophelia was American in origin and presumably named after the character in Hamlet who went mad after the death of her father and, possibly, Hamlet’s treatment of her. Brian is Irish named, after Brian Boru, and, unlike Ophelia which moved mostly south to north, is going to head east across the UK, I trust that you will stay safe.

PS Did I miss Dental Showcase? Yes and No. Yes, after 25 (or more) unbroken years I will miss being able to take the pulse of UK Dentistry. No, I not want to have missed the past few days here.

 

The Monday Morning Quote #452

“It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little – do what you can.”

Sidney Smith

 

Education, education, education or have I missed the point?

From The Times via BDA, the words of another one of those Johnson boys.

Universities urged to make more money from research

Universities are to be measured on how well they work with business, collaborate on research and development and sell their intellectual property. Jo Johnson, the universities minister, will say today that a “knowledge exchange framework” will be developed to analyse how good a job universities do at putting their research to commercial use. In Britain, more research takes place in universities than in comparable countries, at 26 per cent compared with 17 per cent in Germany and 13 per cent in the US. British university revenues from engagement with businesses are growing slowly, at only 1 per cent a year. American universities earn almost 40 per cent more from intellectual property licences as a percentage of their overall research resources than those in the UK. The University of Queensland in Australia earns more than any Russell Group university from this source. The Higher Education Innovation Fund, which helps universities to sell their intellectual property, is to be given £40 million by the government, taking it to £200 million in 2018-19.

No doubt there will be “World Class” hyperbole/BS that goes along with this. Remind me what is the primary function of a university?

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