Third-level revolution sees conformity replace creativity

“Almost 100 years ago, the maverick economist Thorstein Veblen was the first to take notice of the prevalence of ‘received schemes of use and want’ and how they made their way into higher education. For Veblen, the new attitude had its origins in the conditions of the state of the industrial arts, eg the requirements imposed by a new system of ownership and its pecuniary values. The link to higher education was obvious. After all, the ‘captains of solvency’ were not that far away from the ‘captains of learning’. A consequence, according to Veblen, was that modern learning turned into ‘a matter-of-fact, mechanistic complexion’, which lent itself to dry exercises, ‘statistically dispassionate test and formulations’. The net result would be a ‘highly stylised, germ-proof system of knowledge, kept in a cool, dry place’. Veblen thought that such an attitude was the end of idle curiosity …” (more)

[Andreas Hess, Irish Times, 16 February]

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