[FoRK] FoRK Digest, Vol 121, Issue 7

Ken Meltsner meltsner at alum.mit.edu
Sat Oct 12 17:54:21 PDT 2013

On Sat, Oct 12, 2013 at 4:12 PM, Dave Long <dave.long at bluewin.ch> wrote:

> No more
>> tweedy snoozers lecturing everyone into oblivion and charging $50,000
>> a year. Think of college as a gym membership, with trainers to help
>> you make the most of the machines around you.
> Perhaps this metaphor was ill-chosen, as (if I understand properly what
> I've heard from those more into the physical training culture than I*),
> training involves a certain amount of, if not autodidacticism, at least
> self-motivation, and is less a matter of equipment than technique.  Think
> Rocky Balbo, more than Ivan Drago.  From what I've heard, gyms are where
> people go who have other intentions than getting fit (at one of my old
> offices, it was possible to watch people drive circles around the parking
> lot, waiting until they could get a close spot before *going to the gym*!),
> and the machines and trainers are there to ensure that even if they don't
> make much progress, at least they'll be moving through the property and
> won't be injuring themselves.  Simple revenue protection, like debeaking
> chickens.

No, it seems like the right metaphor.  I've seen this at the local U. of
Wisconsin satellite, for example.  The instructors are competent enough,
capable of imparting knowledge as needed or requested, but unlikely to
inspire the uninterested.  Self-motivated students receive enthusiastic
assistance; the rest are allowed to muddle through without injuring
themselves on messy concepts or unpleasant facts.

I was an enthusiastic college participant, although not for the formal
pedagogical part.  For me, the value of a top university was that I was
challenged by the other students to do better, and to care more, than I
might have at a less elite institution -- the difference between choosing
to work out at a gym devoted more to finding a spouse that looks good in
Spandex, or one frequented by would-be triathletes and martial artists.

Ken Meltsner

After 30+ years of email, I have used up my supply of clever ,sig material.

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