According to many, higher education in the United States is a corrupt, self-serving, unsustainable mess.
We need to fire college administrators wholesale, go whole hog to the fad of Massive Open Online Courses, admit our major failings in another fad (STEM), get rid of art and Aeschylus and privatize the University of Virginia while turning oversight to a bunch of New York-based hedge fund Wahoo grads who, no doubt, are the source of all wisdom and virtue because they made zillions seeking alpha and playing edges. Real humanitarians, in other words.
This is the conservative refrain coming from a bunch of white, mostly male and mostly well off people who still resent the supposed liberal bias of professors back in the 1960s and 1970s. They are still seeking revenge.
So imagine my surprise when I saw the front page of the Wall Street Journal today. A bottom page graphic was titled “U.S. Universities Brim With Laureates.”
The beleaguered U.S. with its fat and overextended colleges has a grand total of 343 Nobel winners. The United Kingdom is next with 88, followed by Germany (74), France (35) and Switzerland (22).
Top Nobel schools are California’s system, Harvard, Max Planck, Chicago, Stanford and MIT.
In other words, the U.S. college system is the best in the world as far as science and technology research despite all the gnashing of teeth from every two-bit economic development hack whining about China and STEM.
Will MOOC improve things? It probably has its place but it is hard to see how putting stuff online will be a major world changer. Was the telephone a world changer? Radio? TV?
Maybe it is the human brain that is the game changer and maybe America’s universities are the best places to nurture it, MOOCs or not.