Competition!

It costs about $200 to fly our son back and forth to Texas, where he’s in school. It costs a quarter that much for the shuttle ride to get him just the 20 miles from the airport to his campus. Brenda and I were considering yesterday that a handful of university parents could easily set up a virtual shuttle company, set up online signups and payment through PayPal, and accomplish the rides for less than have what we’re paying now.

There is a movie in the theaters now called Accepted. The plot is nearly identical to the 1984 movie, Revenge of the Nerds. Today, in 2006, slacker, Bartleby Gaines, has been rejected by all of the colleges he has applied to. The obvious culture of his parents’ community is get your child into the BEST university.

Rather than disappoint his parents, Bartleby (played by Justin Long), uses his desktop publishing skills to create his own acceptance letter for a fictitious college, and convinces his best friend (already accepted at the local top-notch school) to build an official looking and functioning web site for the school. His parents are elated, hand him the $10,000 check for first semester’s tuition, and announce how thrilled they will be to drop him off at school.

Now needing a school, he uses the money to lease an abandoned mental hospital, and with friends, (now accepted), cleans up enough of the building to fool their parents. Then, it appears that the web site was more functional than they’d intended, and three hundred entering freshmen show up on the door steps with $10,000 checks.

Then’s when the movie gets interesting, because they decide to start their own college. OK, most of it is dumb and foolish and choreographed for the laughs that don’t always come. But much of the movie reminded me of the open university movement of the 1970’s. There was one in Greenville, NC where I attended ECU for a couple of years. If you had some topic you could teach, you went by to teach it, and if anyone was interested, they’d sit in front of you and listen/learn.

The thing is, with ICT where it is today, much of this is possible.

  • Imagine a conference, where the program began as an empty wiki, and attendees came in and wrote the program by describing what they wanted to learn.
  • Imagine a university where students, parents, and the corporate world writes the curriculum, hires the teachers, or develops the online courses.
  • Imagine a school where parents and students plan the education system themselves.

What we can imagine, today, is much closer to a reality than to fantasy.

Meaning?

  • Competition!

Meaning?

  • More than ever before, our students and their community are our customers!

graduation.jpgI suspect that we may have five years to retool. Maybe a little more. Maybe a lot less.

The question we’re not asking is, “Are the kids in our classrooms today, going to be as willing

to wish

their education

on their children?”


Geekgirlnyc, “Nursery School Graduation, 1979.” Geegkygirlnyc’s Photostream. 9 Sep 2006. 21 Sep 2006 <http://flickr.com/photos/snoodette/238480404/>.

Persist! Resist!, “Graduation Day 5.” Persist! Resist!’s Photostream. 14 May 2006. 21 Sep 2006 <http://flickr.com/photos/persistresist/146486750/>.

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Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.