Stefan Collini, 'From Robbins to McKinsey' article in LRB

Link here to Stefan Collini's article in the LRB, on how the late 20thc culture of managerialism has infiltrated government policy on university funding (and universities themselves).

I especially like this critique of the term 'student experience', which he defines as:
... part of the individualist subjectivism by means of which market transactions hollow out human relations. The model is that of, say, a hotel guest, filling in the feedback questionnaire on the morning of departure. Was ‘the guest experience’ a good one? Did you find the fluffy towels fluffy enough? 
Collini argues that:
... the model of the student as consumer is inimical to the purposes of education.
... The paradox of real learning is that you don’t get what you ‘want’ – and you certainly can’t buy it. The really vital aspects of the experience of studying something (a condition very different from ‘the student experience’) are bafflement and effort. Hacking your way through the jungle of unintelligibility to a few small clearings of partial intelligibility is a demanding and not always enjoyable process. It isn’t much like wallowing in fluffy towels.
 I'm tempted to put 'the paradox of real learning...' quotation in my course handbooks. I want to encourage students to realize that it is *normal* to not understand something the first time, have to go back and re-read something before grasping its basic meaning, and that everything can't be ingested (certainly not in History, anyway), in 'bite-size chunks'. This also applies, as Collini is arguing here, to their whole degree, what a university education is for, and how expansion of the mind *takes time*. It can't be an exercise in ticking the 'correct' boxes and completing exercises with the sole goal of completing them. Rather a university education should be developing oneself to think independently and critically for life.


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