The Purpose of University Education

The purpose of university education is:


1. to get a job

2. to explore and become yourself

3. to become productive citizens

4. to feed curiosity

5. to question everything


What else? Add suggestions to the comment section…

Posted in vtnmfs-s13

Three Emotional Reactions

Frustration. Admiration. Sadness.

I was reading a part of Douglas Engelbart’s Augmenting Human Intellect (1962) recently. I am not a computer scientist, so it wasn’t easy going, and that led to the frustration. I would like to understand these things better, but I find myself both rushed and challenged by some of these ideas. Yet I am interested in the digital world, with its impact on education and self-creation, and that led me to admiration. Engelbart says early: “We refer to a way of life…”d He wanted to make life better. His chosen area was the digital manipulation of what could be manipulated. He knew he was setting up the future, for others to continue the process. He also says “…we find that after a few passes through a reference, we very rarely go back to it in its original form. It sits in the archives like an orange rind, with most of the real juice squeezed out.” I am fascinated by his thinking, his contemporaneous feel (writing this in 1962), and his gifts. And that’s when I asked Gardner what he was up to now. I did not know if he was still alive or not when I asked the question. And I got the best and worst kind of response. Gardner gave an immediate visceral response; this was important to him. And then he narrated. He is still alive, but he has Alzheimer’s Disease. I found this – as did most of those in the room, primed by Gardner’s reaction no doubt – I found this incredibly sad. One of the more brilliant minds in the late 20th century now gone in significant ways. Gardner’s story was touching, effective, and, for me, devastating. This is a great fear of mine, to have Alzheimers and to be at that terrifying point when you know you have it and know you will slip away, but just before you do. I had to leave just then, but it was a somber walk. Somber and respectful.






Posted in vtnmfs-s13 Tagged


Taking students to Greece always stuns me. It is a great joy to introduce students to a place I love, both intellectually and emotionally. The notion of place theory has caught my attention in recent years – Tim Cresswell’s Place. A short Introduction is a good place to start – and being in Greece reminds me of the importance of place, of location, angle, story, people, myth, nostalgia, perspective, and memory. Introducing a place to students reintroduces the idea of place, because these places – the theatre of Dionysus, the Plaka, the National Archaeological Museum, the entrance to the Acropolis, the theatre at Delphi and Epidaurus, Sounion, Santorini – need people, artifacts, myths, and small walls, to make it a place. That is what I am able to offer as a gift to students, connecting narratives. And this year it gave me some time with my father. I hadn’t thought that Tim Minchin would bring me close to my father, but music is clever like that. And places are clever like that. That’s why they are places. So I am grateful to Greece. And I am grateful to my students who bring me back there again and again for the first time. And I am grateful to Tim Minchin:




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