Critical Thinking You Can Eat

With the cost of private education and unpaid internships increasingly the purview of a privileged few, community colleges deserve a second look. Sure, you can teach yourself how to cook or compost and do a fine job at it, but for those who want to upgrade their skills, practice using professional equipment, and receive mentorship that can last a lifetime, community colleges are increasingly rising to the challenge.

Community Colleges: Affordable Good Food Education,” Nina Kahori Fallenbaum

In many different ways, the large research universities– where I got my Ph.D.– are becoming increasingly insular if not irrelevant; gated factories run by poorly paid part-time workers who cannot afford the commodity educations they help produce. This could be turned around– and online education ought to be a part of that turn around– but so far there’s little sign of any substantive change on the horizon. The giants sleep.

The research universities used to be great engines of class mobility; more and more, now, they contribute to and reinforce the increasing divide between rich and poor. The real hope for change, perhaps not surprisingly, may lay at the margins, in the community colleges. I particularly like these progressive culinary programs, which embody critical thinking (and not merely teach it). It’s an authentic praxis, and all too rare in education.

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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