On the destruction of the university

“Lectures follow one another according to some general order and plan. The sequence in which the beginner hears them is not unimportant Hence compulsory study plans have come into being. In this way, however, university study ends up being strait-jacketed. The university is turned into a high school in order to achieve a satisfactory average with statistical certainty. This leads to the destruction of the university. As you stifle the student’s freedom to learn as he sees fit you stifle the life of the mind. The life of the mind is never more than a chance achievement amid a sea of failure and frustration. It is always something over and above average performance. Both student and teacher are unhappy when chained to curricula and syllabi, to tests and mediocre standards. An atmosphere of uninspired and uninspiring common sense may well produce satisfactory mastery of technical “know how” and testable factual information. Such an atmosphere, however, stifles genuine understanding and the spirit of adventure in research.” (p.61)

Referernce:

K. Jaspers (1960). The idea of the university. Boston: Beacon Press.

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