A member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, Bemidji State University is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer and educator.
Preserving the Essence of
Education; Preserving
Ourselves as Educators
Martin Tadlock and Beth Weatherby
Provosts: Bemidji State and Southwest Minnesota State
October 2014
“The one continuing purpose of education,
since ancient times, has been to bring
people to as full a realization as possible
of what it is to be a human being.
Other statements of educational purpose
have also been widely accepted: to
develop the intellect, to serve social
needs, to contribute to the economy, to
create an effective work force, to prepare
students for a job or career, to promote a
particular social or political system.
These purposes offered are undesirably
limited in scope, and in some instances
they conflict with the broad purpose I have
indicated; they imply a distorted human
The broader humanistic purpose includes
all of them, and goes beyond them, for it
seeks to encompass all the dimensions of
human experience.”
Arthur W. Foshay, “The Curriculum Matrix: Transcendence and
Mathematics,” Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 1991
In 1938 John Dewey said: Education is not
preparation for life; education is life itself.
What avail is it to win prescribed amounts of
information about geography and history, to win
ability to read and write, if in the process the
individual loses his or her soul; loses
appreciation of things worthwhile, of the values
to which these things are relative; loses desire
to apply what has been learned and, above all,
loses the ability to extract meaning from future
experiences as they occur.
In 1995 Michael Apple said:
“If the primary public responsibility and
justification for tax-supported education is
raising a generation of fellow citizens, then the
classroom--of necessity--must be a place
where students learn the habits of mind, work,
and heart that lie at the core of such a
Constrast that with the
Sociologist George Ritzer in his book The
McDonaldization of Society (1993) highlighted
four primary components of McDonaldization:
Efficiency – the optimal method for
accomplishing a task. In the example of
McDonald's customers, it is the fastest way to
get from being hungry to being full. Efficiency
in McDonaldization means that every aspect of
the organization is geared toward the
minimization of time.
Calculability – objective should be quantifiable
(e.g., sales) rather than subjective (e.g., taste).
McDonaldization developed the notion that
quantity equals quality, and that a large amount
of product delivered to the customer in a short
amount of time is the same as a high quality
product. This allows people to quantify how
much they're getting versus how much they’re
paying. Organizations want consumers to
believe that they are getting a large amount of
product for not a lot of money.
Predictability – standardized and uniform
services. "Predictability" means that no matter
where a person goes, they will receive the
same service and receive the same product
every time when interacting with the
McDonaldized organization.
Control – standardized and uniform
employees, replacement of human by nonhuman technologies.
A colleague of mine recently wrote this in a
Chronicle of Higher Education opinion piece:
“When did students and their parents start
seeing college as a gauntlet rather than as an
exciting pathway to opportunity? When did
policy makers stop seeing higher education as
a valuable public investment? When did a
degree become a commodity to be sold and
traded in the marketplace with little regard to
what it means to be an educated person?
Maybe when we bought into:
• knowledge delivery as education
• standardization
• massification of knowledge delivery
• ‘training’ as education
• education as career preparation
The question:
• How do we preserve a focus on developing
people to be thoughtful, contributing
community members in the face of
technocratic pressures to ‘train’?

academics/affairs/CAO meeting fall 2014

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