Education in the Bathtub

Grover Norquist famously claimed that the object of right-wing politics was to shrink the government “down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” It’s the profoundly undemocratic heart of American politics in the last 30 years, because it represents a profound misunderstanding of what government can and should do. It teaches that government never serves a greater public good.

This shrunken and half-dead notion of government also erodes the most basic of educational ideals: a technological society, rooted in scientific knowledge, can only survive, much less thrive, if it is made up of a scientifically and technologically literate citizenship. Otherwise, to paraphrase Clarke, we live in a world filled with devices and processes so poorly understood they may as well be magic.

In “The University Has no Clothes,” this ideal has disappeared completely, at least from the “fashionable venture capitalists.” Vocation is certainly an important part of college, particularly in a culture that seems so determined to make its own people as economically insecure as possible. A college degree, though, is also supposed to be a contribution to society, not simply a benefit for a person or family.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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