So, farewell then the Open University on broadcast television. There’s an excellent article
in the Independent
- read it before it vanishes behind their paywall.
Farewell the idea that anyone might, you know, be interested in learning something for its own sake; that’s perverse, subversive, almost unthinkable. Education, education, education has a single purpose dontchaknow: the accumulation of (increasingly worthless, devalued) pieces of paper, and it must be paid for
in hard cash else how can its value be measured? Value must have metrics, graphed through Excel, presented in interminable Powerpoints (and when did that
become an improper noun?), charting the neatly packaged, synthetic-sausage-skin enwrapped extrusions that emerge. “Failure” is not tolerated. We’re beyond just bums on seats now: we’re advanced
and funding is by results, boy, and don’t you forget it.
Me? I watched the OU programs on, well, just about any subject that came up when I came home from school. Back then, they were on BBC2 in the afternoons: history, maths, sociology, physics, philosophy, biology... There were vast tracts I didn’t understand but, still, I acquired a feel for the shape
of ideas, of concepts, that gave me a framework that I’ve built upon throughout my life.
By today’s standards, I’m a failure: worse, I not only failed my University degree, I had a grant and no tuition fees to pay either and haven’t paid the state a penny back for the privilege (other than in taxes, but they don’t count). Worse yet: I used University as a resource. My degree course was Maths and Electronics, but I taught myself to program. I hung out with the CS students and lecturers arguing the merits of Algol68 against Pascal and, after I dropped out, Computer Services let me keep and use my mainframe account for two years - IIRC they even made use of some of my code. But no degree, no worth, so I guess I’ll have to discount the 25 years I’ve spent programming for fun and profit since ;)
So. Farewell again; farewell to the last vestiges of a less cynical, less life-fearing way of living and being. I’m sure that the space will be filled by valuable and fulfilling new celebrity reality TV
, and we’ll all end up better consumers as a result.