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17 August 2009



Enjoyed your post. As a college instructor, you might be surprised to find that I don't completely disagree with you. One thing that college does offer that may not matter to people like you or Seth Godin is structure and drive. Many people would start learning on their own, but only with the help and sometimes forceful drive of a professor will they continue to the end. Classes can be a waste of time, but true education is never wasted. Thanks for your input into the field. I may share this blog with my cohorts.

Capri tilghman

my beautiful daughter is starting Penn State this fall and can use this knowlege , not always taught in school. My name is earl anderson jr, e-mail...maninmotion3@hotmail.com good luck & God bless Baby girl, love Daddy.

Philip Tiongson

Thanks very much, Burl, for dropping by. I am not 'against' formal education or structured education that includes tests and metrics. There is merit still in earning a degree from a structured learning environment.

I thought of this one whilst I was on the bus, responding to a twit from a friend: "Great educators are those who journey through life with their students within the confines of the lecture room - whilst knowing full well - and communicating clearly - that the world is far beyond the lecture room."

I finished a pre-med/psychology degree in university. In addition, I have a minor degree in theology and philosophy, having reached what our education ministry defines as a 'minor' degree.

If you asked me what the best courses/subjects were that are now influential in my life:

Philosophy and Metaphysics - because it gave me the chance to think that there is more to what I know than I would ever know

Philosophy of Religion - because it gave me the tools to reason out my faith

Anatomy - because it gave me the chance to stand in awe at how complex our bodies are

Statistics and Probability - because it gave me the the motivation to search for the truth, in spite of the Truth being forever elusive

Chemistry - because it taught me to be methodical in my approach to problems

And in all these, there was a common denominator: A great educator who said (subtly or overtly) "you can either spend your time with me or not, read the lectures or not - but so long as you can prove and demonstrate that you've learned something applicable from this course far beyond these four walls, you'll survive."

Thanks again!

(And yes, I will be back in the academe soon!)

Philip Tiongson

Hi Capri - thank you for stopping by - and good luck to your baby girl in her new phase. I am sure that she will enjoy it - and if she decides to do so, learn a lot from it.

I am educated outside of the US - although our system is probably the same as the US. In my cohort, we were one competitive bunch. Whoever got an "A" gets the respect of the others. It was only a few days before graduation - in our last get-together as a class - that we realized, what really mattered was we got to know each other, we supported each other through the trials of college life, we became mentors to each other - and shoulders to cry on when the not-too-elusive "D" or "F" came. The grades did matter - but as we marched towards the stage to get our diplomas, we were proud not only of our grades (we all passed) - but also of the fact that we tried our best to never leave anyone behind.

I think that was education.

And I hope your daughter finds the best balance between the grades - which are important (girl, listen to you daddy!) - and the community and friends who will be with her as she goes through these challenges.

Good luck to your baby girl - and yes, I wish her all the best!



Hey Phil;
I've been stuck on a meme about higher education moving from a content focus to a relationship focus (Sorry to the original author, I've forgotten from whence it came). When I received my "letters", my education was definitely time limited and centered around content; and I think that is where Burl might be too. Thanks to wikipedia, itunes U, MIT OCW, and others, content is abundant. Now, siding with Burl, there is still much value in sequencing, motivating and other structural stuff, but I think the value add is potentially relational and community centered. Content is only the tip of the iceberg. I think the future success of a person is in how deeply they understand the content, how they are able to use it and relate it to new circumstances, how they are able to receive in-put to extend it and, in general, to continue to grow. (You could call it tacit knowledge, though I hate that ill-defined term.) This doesn't necessarily come from a class or course, but it could come from being embedded in a network, one that is integral to your identity. Imagine if you are being hired by someone who knows they are not just hiring an XYZ University grad, but someone who is intimately linked to the entire XYZ community, that would be a sign of extended value. Imagine a university that is not just a bunch of courses, but an initiation into a lifetime network and commitment. I'm not sure if there is a place like that, but I believe it is possible. I love and learn much from blogs (Thank you Phil!). I just think that some kind of social media and network learning can evolve even further and that this could be a future for higher education. (OK, I admit it, I like the soap box too much, I'm getting down now)

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