Response to Yoda Yudof interview

Being who I am I was inclined to write off my response to the Yoda Yudof interview as the result of my unresolved Oedipal Complex.

But I do believe it touched a nerve also with others less unresolved.

One colleague reported that reading the interview made her feel as if she were falling into the abyss.

Another friend turned me on to some URLs out of Berkeley that also indicate considerable dissatisfaction with the interview. See especially the attempt of 19 people to provide YY with better responses to the questions.

And another colleague was moved to share a quotation:

To bring an area of life into accord with “rational choice” is to force life into the mold of a specific complex of metaphors for better or worse, all too often for the worse. An example is the trend to conceptualize education metaphorically as a business, or through privatization to make education a business run by considerations of “rational choice.” In this metaphor, students are consumers, their education is a product , and teachers are labor resources. Knowledge then becomes a commodity, a thing with market value that can be passed from teacher to student. Test scores measure the quality of the product. Better schools are the ones with higher overall test scores. Productivity is the measure of test scores per dollar spent. Rational-choice theory imposes a cost-benefit analysis in which productivity is to be maximized. Consumers should be getting the “best education” for their dollar.

This metaphor stresses efficiency and product quality above all else. In doing so, it hides the realities of education. Education is not a thing; it’s an activity. Knowledge is not literally transmitted from teacher to student, and education is not merely the acquisition of particular bits of knowledge. Through education, students who work at it become something different. It is what they become that is important. This metaphor ignores the student’s role, as well as the role of the role of the student’s upbringing and the culture at large. It ignores the nurturing role of educators, which often can be very labor-intensive. And it ignores the overall social necessity for an ongoing, maintained class of education professionals who are appropriately reimbursed for the immense amount they contribute to society.”

–George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh (1999), p. 532