Bootleg education

Error message

  • Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/
  • Deprecated function: implode(): Passing glue string after array is deprecated. Swap the parameters in drupal_get_feeds() (line 394 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/
Published by Matthew Davidson on Fri, 22/05/2015 - 12:06am in

Once or twice now (I'm being evasive to protect my sources), when venting frustration at neoliberal higher education, I've been told by a member of the academic precariat (paraphrasing heavily):

"I completely understand where you're coming from, and I sympathise, but I don't personally work like that. I go through the motions of administrative accountability, but what I do is principally guided by my own academic integrity, and is as near as possible to what I would do under ideal circumstances."

This is all very laudable, but unfortunately the university administration could choose not to hire that person next term, stick another disposable academic work unit into the same slot, with the same textbook, study guide, and PowerPoint slides, but fewer scruples, and the university (defined as the sum of its administrative staff) would not skip a beat.

It's occurred to me on several occasions to likewise say to those assessing my work, such as it is:

"I've read the predetermined learning outcomes and marking criteria, but I'm choosing to ignore them and try to find something about the given topic to write about which might be interesting and original instead. Give me the mark you have to give me, and I won't be offended. If you can give additional feedback based on the pretence that we're at a real university that would be appreciated, but I understand that you probably do not have the luxury of the time required to do so."

I think that such a compact could work, although it would render explicit the fact that we inhabit a higher education system where academic education is prohibited. I suggest that we not only recognise, but also embrace this prohibition. We academic bootleggers need a secret password; as a traditionalist, I think it should be "swordfish".