Evolving the Concept of Higher Education - Today's Distant Learning as an Effective Alternative to Traditional University – Article Example
Roger Scruton in his article “The idea of a outlines how the concept of higher education has been changing withtime. To some people these changes may look like development while they will remind degradation to other. Nevertheless, as any dynamic concept, higher education must also change to remain actual and relevant to the époque. In present reality university has become a redundant establishment requiring high prices and not providing students with what is expected of education. Therefore, distant learning is the present alternative to a university and the reality that will change the way higher education functions. Scruton suggests in his article that “the cyber-university will be a day-to-day reality”.
The author starts from description of the establishment of Catholic University of Ireland and assignment the role of the rector to a philosopher, a poet, a priest, Henry Newman. From the very conception academic education was regarded not only as the transference of some knowledge, but as the possibility of students “to absorb the graces and the accomplishments of a higher form of life” (Scruton). Moreover, education was granted only to men initially in order to make them real gentlemen. According to the speech of Newmen, a gentleman is the one who does not simply perceive information but also senses the tone, the meaning, and the whole atmosphere of what was said. Thus, university was the place which provided young men with all the conditions for achieving education. It also performed its role in preparation of a new generation and decent members of society. University was a part of ordinary life, as a natural step to adult life:
“ It was a place where work and leisure occurred side by side, shaping each other, and each playing its part in producing the well-formed and graceful personality”(Scruton).
Now these concepts regarding university education have reasonably become outdated. First of all, universities accept women and grant them with equal education. Secondly, higher education institutions are now equipped with modern libraries and provide accommodation to students. So evidently, universities have lost their higher targets of teaching future adults with moral values and adjusting them to the norms of society. Parents who spent a great deal of money on education obviously feel certain regret because they want their kids to receive not only education but become well-behaved and prepared for major roles in society. The price for education rises so parents want to get feedback and make sure that their children will be decent adults and will meet their expectations. However, certain academic freedom that is allowed today in universities leads to the fact that students pass their free time not at the studies. Moreover, most specialties presuppose that children do not have to use their intellectual potential to the full extent and all the subjects are quite easy for understanding. That is another major change in the approach to higher education. According to Scruton, the thing that follows that intellectual freedom is ideological conformity:
“What is expected of the student in many courses in the humanities and social sciences is ideological conformity, rather than critical appraisal, and censorship has become accepted as a legitimate part of the academic way of life."
Another level in the evolution of the university is distant learning. The author marks that there is great advantage of Americans that they have accepted the idea that education is not connected to the establishment. Homeschooling became the first idea appreciated by the nation further developed into distant learning with the spread of the Internet. This type of education is beneficial to both students and teachers. Students get more engaged and have to stick to the lectures while professors can share their knowledge directly with listeners avoiding a number of redundant procedures and not sharing their earning with less skillful colleagues. Moreover, the author underlies that these changes are needed crucially:
“Already I have begun to encounter university colleagues, marginalized for their conservative views or for their dissatisfaction with the way things are done, who are looking for other ways of continuing the great tradition of higher learning, and of passing on to the next generation some of the knowledge that was passed on to them. Such is the prevailing spirit in America, that I suspect the cyber-university will be a day-to-day reality”
So university as an establishment that guarantees higher education has passed through several stages and finally become redundant with Internet appearance. Now every person in the world can choose the course for reasonable price and receive required knowledge with a click of a mouse. Since a university is not supposed to teach moral values or create real gentlemen its role as an education mediator can be considered completed. Distant learning available to everyone has taken its place .
Scruton, R. The Idea of a University. The American Spectator, Sept.2010.< http://spectator.org/articles/38984/idea-university