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Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Church and Higher Education: Part 3: Why Traditional Higher Education Should Be Abandoned

In a Special Article to CNN by Mormon scholars Clayton Christensen and Henry Eyring (the son, not the Apostle) suggest that much of the problem is schools trying to imitate Harvard. From "Colleges should stop imitating Harvard":
Going to college today is more important than ever. In this world of unprecedented change, now isn't the time to be staying away from the institutions whose primary mission is to discover and share knowledge. But these institutions have put themselves at risk by allowing the education they offer to become expensive, hard to access and unengaging relative to what is possible.
Please consider that both Christensen and Eyring had the typical college experience and both teach and administrate at traditional colleges. They lay out the problem below:
They didn't mean to do this. In fact, our colleges and universities are all about getting bigger and better, and their success has made us much better off. The problem is that too many of them, including former community colleges and technical institutes, now act more like Harvard, the world's most widely admired university.
Imitating Harvard is a problem for two reasons. One is the cost: If you don't have a multibillion-dollar endowment and government research funding, the only alternative is to raise tuition. The other problem is that the basic elements of the Harvard model of education are roughly 100 years old. Thus, its imitators have, with the best of intentions, become expensive, exclusive and distanced from the nonacademic world.
Christensen and Eyring both think there are better options out there and so do I. Future posts will cover them.

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