My Senior Gift Pictorally: UT Diplomas

The Conversation II

   Have you heard the news?

What news?

   UT is the #1 party school!

That's old news! Did you know that you can go to any bathroom on campus and obtain your diploma?

   What? How? You kidding?!

Yeah, you can obtain it from the tissue dispensers: 'UT Diplomas Take One'.

This is one of the many concerns and problems that I have been pondering over the last 3 years—this diploma that I have come here to get. Since my freshman year, it has gotten easier to obtain a "diploma." All you have to do is sign up for something (service, account, e-mail, etc.) on the World Wide Web and within 48 hours, you will have loads of "junk mail" sent to you by the third party(ies) that your e-mail has been sold to. Inside of the "junk mail," you will find at least 3 e-mails that take you to a site so that you can obtain your "diploma" on-line. However, since I have never done this, the following are my assumptions:

The diploma can be received without ever taking classes or enrolling in a university/college.

If I had known before I came to UT that I could have obtained a college "diploma" from the Web, I may have done so (considering what I know now about UT and college in general). However, I am closer than ever to obtaining that piece of paper that is so highly regarded, but as to why, I don't know, it (the "diploma") just is.

Big Orange Screw

Since I have been here, (I think) I have become more knowledgeable about the "Big Orange Screw" that I heard about my freshman year. It (the "Big Orange Screw") was something that many knew about, but I guess there was/is no formal definition for it yet because no two people have the same experiences. And to make sure that it doesn't happen to you, I advise ALL current and prospective students to do some research on the "Big Orange Screw" so that it won't happen to you!

I guess part of the "Big Orange Screw" is the 'screw' that happens to EVERYONE in this nation who goes to college to obtain a "piece of paper!" (especially if they spend ten thousand+ dollars to get a piece of paper!)

Is the amount of money that one spends on tuition really worth it (for the "education" that we receive)? Many people that I have conversated with and myself believe that the "quality" of the education received from colleges/universities has gone down. However, that depends on who you talk to and whether they feel "quality" was present in the beginning or not. In the manufacturing of products, one knows that "quality" cannot be inspected into the process, rather it has to be inherent in the process.

"All schools, all colleges, have two great functions: to confer, and to conceal, valuable knowledge. The theological knowledge which they conceal cannot justly be regarded as less valuable than that which they reveal. That is, when a man is buying a basket of strawberries it can profit him to know that the bottom half of it is rotten."

- Mark Twain's Notebook, 1908

There have been many books written on the demise of higher education, the current educational system, and the privatizing of education. I have wondered quite often whether the "educational system" was designed to "educate" because I feel that's more important than whether the "quality" of an "education" has decreased or not.

Classroom (Public) Education

What was the TRUE purpose of the "classroom (public) education?"

About 9 years ago, I came across some research that had been done on the history of the "classroom education." It said that the system was designed to turn all who went through into robots so that once they got out, they could immediately start working in factories, coal mines, or for the government. The "creators" of the classroom education thought that the robots would not start any trouble or ask questions about the purpose of the work they were doing, which was crucial to the big corporations and our government—and in many ways this still seems to be the case (it's sad but true). I also came across the purpose of the row layout (that we currently have in our classrooms); it was to ensure proper standardization of the students by producing robots who do not ask questions, that think with one brain or don't think. It was modeled on the authoritarian Prussian schools (it is a formation that has been used and is still used in the military).

From How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day by Michael Gelb. 1998, 65.

"Although we all started life with a Da Vinci-like insatiable curiosity, most of us learned, once we got to school, that answers were more important than questions. In most cases, schooling does not develop curiosity, delight in ambiguity, and question-asking skill. Rather, the thinking skill that's rewarded is figuring out the "right answer"—that is, the answer held by the person in authority, the teacher. This pattern holds throughout university and postgraduate education, especially in a class where the professor wrote the text. (In a classic study at a top university, summa cum laude graduates were given their same final exams one month after graduation, and they all failed. Researcher Leslie Hart summarized the results: "Final exams are final indeed!") The authority-pleasing, question-suppressing, rule-following approach to education may have served to provide society with assembly-line workers and bureaucrats, but it does not do much to prepare us for a new Renaissance."

Grades & Degrees

Like any other form of standardization and control there are those who will like it and others who don't. The same is true with the idea of grades and degrees, many (an assumption) who only care about grades and degrees do not care about "learning" or gaining "true knowledge" from their educational experience. For those who don't give a DAMN about grades and diplomas (degrees), they must (at least for now) conform to the system so they can be able to show to their future employers or employees in the future that they have "knowledge" (more)

Last Modified: 30 October 2007 EST