Academia is considered one of the most prestigious institutions on the planet, and is considered to be an institution of utter perfection, and that, it if weren’t for what it is in it’s present form, humanity would not have advanced in its present form.
But academia is an institution riddles with holes, and rooted in an outdated mindset that will come back to bite its own tale, and make cease to exist if it does not change its ways. What is needed to reform academia, to save academia, and to see to it that academia flourishes well into the future.
In that, what is needed is an academic manifesto.
The biggest problem with academia in its current state is its standardization. Academia standardizes people with wide varieties of talents. But if the fall of communism proved anything, it is that standardization of human talent doesn’t work. Academia must evaluate people on a long list of talents. One may not be good at writing in a structured manner, but can compensate by arguing his/her case upon a floor in front of fellow peers in a very free flowing way. In a system that made sense, both levels of showing one’s self deserved equal banter. But, in the current academic system, writing is favored over all else.
This is largely due to, in part, the mass production mentality. The mass production mentality is centered around the notion that one can only prove their works how much productivity (in the case of academia, it is assignments such as essays, research parers, thesis, etc.) that one can do in a set quarter. This is largely due to the economic system that has become mainstream since the industrial revolution.
This, ultimately, is the root source, and in fact is, academia’s biggest problem. Academia does not think for itself, it has been structured for the purpose of serving a greater good. In this case, the greater good being the economy. This is shown most noticeably by politicians talking about the need to reform education, not for the purpose of unlocking children’s full potential, but rather to prepare them for the jobs of the future, and by launching new initiatives like “workforce preparedness.”
The mass production mentality, aside from being incredibly reductionist, is also obsolete. Because the economic system that mass-production based mentality academia was designed around is obsolete. It was great for the blue-collar economy, when low-skilled manufacturing jobs were abundant, and so education wasn’t a priority for politicians because if they fail, there was always room on the assembly line. But we don’t live in that era anymore. Blue collar is changing. White collar jobs are now mainstream. Rather than have a mass-production based mentality, academia must adopt a white collar approach and adopt an intuition-based mentality.
This brings up a fundamental core problem with academia as it stands now. People learn to enrich themselves, not to serve a greater purpose. Furthermore, anyone who has ever invested in the stock market will tell you that one cannot fully say that “This shall be the future.” One cannot predict future jobs, and one shouldn’t even try. Rather than having education revolve around jobs, jobs should revolve around education. One should not look at education as a pyramid hierarchical structure, or, as George Carlin once put it, “A few winners, a whole lot of losers” when doing a comedy skit on children. One should view education and academia in a more egalitarian manner.
This is also a necessity. Many people complain about robots taking away jobs. And yet this would not be a problem if academia had not dulled people down into robots. The human mind is a mind of great potential, not meant to be doing dull tasks robots should do anyway. With the rise of automation, society may be headed towards a more knowledge-based economy. So while there may be less mechanics, plumbers, and waiters, there will be more doctors, scholars, scientists, etc. And ultimately, is that not a good thing? Do we not want more doctors in this world?
Academia must evolve into the future. Academia must be more inclusive, more open to different ways of thinking, less conservative in its approach. Academia must center around focusing a mind, rather than disciplining a mind. A manifesto is in due order.