Here’s the post that sparked my thoughts below – a discussion of the precipitous rise of adjuncts in higher ed, from 25% just a few years ago to 75% now in some places.
The devaluation of the teacher (who is the core of any educational experience) is a serious danger in all education, both K-12 and higher ed. I’m stunned that it’s so hard for politicians and consumers within the system to see that and/or care.
Faculty quality matters. Teacher experience matters. Being trained in pedagogy as a higher ed professor matters. Quality of life for faculty matters. Enabling faculty to have the space and time to mentor students and build relationships matters because education is, at the core, a relational endeavor.
What’s really in play here is that we’re seeing a result of dehumanization within the higher ed system — both of students as “education” has become a commodity to be traded, a transfer of information or skills in direct exchange for “immediate employability” (a concept which itself does damage to the ideas of vocation and calling and a well-lived life), and of faculty, who in this kind of system are of little value beyond quantity of information they can spew to the most students in the least amount of time.
And the colleges are not the only guilty ones here. Families make the college decision based greatly on bottom-line cost, without considering that pound for pound not all education is the same. Two years at a community college are NOT the same cognitive or social experience as a baccalaureate college environment. But because as a society we’re willing to let the “bottom” of the economic strata get by on underfunded community college educations, we’re now seeing the diminished value of education creep up into the middle class.
Understand, I’m not blaming families for making economic decisions – college is expensive. I’m also not blaming colleges for responding to the strident demands of current families and students to be presented with top-notch, brand-new dorms and classroom buildings and entertainment complexes as part of the college experience. The market has spoken.
But the market isn’t our god, nor should it determine our ethics.