There were several fascinating conversations I wish I would have had time to respond to while I was in transition. I just want to mark them, as they scroll off into the sunset.
Because I teach, and maintain an online journal, I am sympathetic to the blog-thread that sprang from Liz Lawley’s post about boundaries. The comment thread, particularly on Wealth Bondage, is fascinating. But I can’t help but think that the situation isn’t that far removed from the whole personal/private boundary issue which springs from any public form of discourse.
Why is it a different issue when professionals gate their discourse because they know that those below them on the hierarchy might read them? I suspect because it violates the illusion of an assumed lateral distribution of discourse on the web. The tutor is right—there is always an in-crowd, and those who would seek to subvert it. That’s why I have always tried to avoid setting those essential boundaries; I suppose, like Groucho Marx, I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.
But I don’t really see the sinister conspiracy implied by Doug’s interesting post on “deschooling”. I think it is important that education acts to destroy itself—the most important thing that any school can teach you is that you don’t need school. Any person with enough determination, outside the “club” if you will, can learn as much if not more than any discourse community can offer.
There shouldn’t be a hierarchy, once you pass a certain point in basic skills. I loved watching a sort of “academic snobbery” completely fall away, piece by piece, in the professors I have worked with. The more you reach to grasp their level, the more you can look them in the eye instead of staring into their kneecaps. It isn’t a case of developing a gated academic ego to stand parallel to them, but rather having the ability to logically construct a case where you must be taken seriously. Of course, there will always be those who cling to their academic robes.
But this has not been the case with the majority of my teachers—they have become colleagues, not because of any basic change in attitude on either side, but because of a change in the level of knowledge we share. No one knows everything; when you figure out that it is important to talk to people because they actually know things that you don’t, you become a much more effective learner.
The flow of knowledge works both ways in school. I learn things from my students every semester. I enjoy that aspect a lot more than any privileges afforded by a gated community.