CPP = William Howard Taft?

Comrade PhysioProffe‘s post last week on Thomas Friedman’s puffery of MOOCs calls out MOOCs as a “class warfare scam,” and makes an interesting comparison of mass-produced MOOC education to mass-produced poor quality chain restaurant food:

The children of the wealthy will never, ever be subject to MOOC-based education, and the elite institutions they attend–who are perfectly happy to publish some courses on-line for free viewing by the public–will never, ever allow their students to take MOOCs for course credit. (Or if they do, they will be *extremely* restricted in the total number of MOOC credits they allow to count for major and graduation.) These kids are being prepared to be leaders and bosses of the poor mooks who are gonna be subject to MOOCs, so they need real education.

Just like the Tom Friedmans of the world don’t eat cheap greasy fattening nutrient-poor corporate swill at Denny’s, they don’t allow their kids to be subject to shitteasse greasy educational corporate swill like MOOCs.

Compare this to a speech by the resurrected William Howard Taft in Taft 2012, by Jason Heller, pp. 186-87:

And just as no man, woman, or child in this country is truly healthy if his neighbor is not, so it goes with two of mankind’s most basic needs:  sustenance and education.  Trust me, I am well acquainted with both.  And I also know, in the essential matters of food and schools, that quantity and quality are not interchangeable.  What’s that saying you have these days?  ‘Garbage in, garbage out?’  For too long, I have come to understand, America has been content to let those in power–the would-be dictators of both the public and private sectors–feed you garbage.  This garbage is presented in many forms:  lower wages for public school teachers.  Political and corporate pressures on curricula.  Reckless agribusiness.  Relaxed standards and regulations of the food industry.  And then there’s the intersection of the two problems:  the toxic crossroads we call student lunch.  It may seem a small thing, granted, in the grand scheme of this vast nation.  But if you want to look at one of the major roots of the lack of self-reliance and the lack of self-regard in this country look no further.

Elites know what’s truly nourishing.  Elites know how education works.  (Taft was a Yalie, a Bonesman.)  They know that both quality food and quality education take time and money.  Why do middle-class people buy into the scam that they (or their poorer neighbors) can get something for nothing?

The shame is that it’s so easy to fool people.  It’s so relatively inexpensive to nourish people well in body and mind compared to the costs of institutionalizing them in prisons.

10 thoughts on “CPP = William Howard Taft?

  1. I find it interesting that the for-profit educational work my father does for a particularly booming industry has in-person, small classes as central to its approach. Often there are about 5 students per instructor. The companies that send their employees to him for additional training know that if they want their employees to really learn the material and be prepared to work with it, they need in-person, focused attention from an instructor with whom they can interact. When a for-profit organization is benefitting from the students actually being educated, they recognize the advantages of small classes and interactive instruction, but online for-profit schools don’t particularly benefit from their students being educated. They might end up realizing that they would get better instruction at a CC (or other traditional institution)!


  2. CPP is clearly in touch with the big insights of our age. MOOCs are not the saviour they’re presented as but they are attractive to governments who seek to trim costs while seeming to care about the people. *sigh*

    I had missed that novel: now I must look it up, no?


  3. Janice, the novel is OK. It’s just about the right length (short) for what’s really kind of an extended joke about a resurrected missing/presumed dead president. Lots of jokes about how a man born in the 1860s adjusts to life in the early 21st century, etc. (he likes golf on the wii; is skeptical of the value of Twitter and the Google, etc.)

    It’s light on the details of where exactly Taft has been for the previous century–his real life history after 1912 is replaced in the book by his mysterious disappearance. So, there is not really much for the sci-fi or fantasy fans–it’s more of a political novel than anything.


  4. I think the test for any educational reformer, of any kind, is where they send their own children to school. If your children are educated with whatever system you want to foist on the rest of us, you get bonus points. (I was impressed listening to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me this weekend that Arne Duncan has his kids in public school.) So as soon as the PTB send their children to get their education in MOOCs, online universities, etc., I will think they are really offering an equivalent education.

    On the other hand, I heard an interview with the kid who wrote the book on hacking your education, and all I could think was — “Sure. There are lots of first generation college students who can get internships at major companies.” So the un-schooling movement is just as elitist…


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