Quotes to note

From Dr. Karen Frederickson
Associate Professor, Music, cross-appointed to Education

“The best product on the market, as we know, is the one which is the most ‘problem-free’ for its purchaser – delivered ‘ready made for instant use’, ‘guaranteed replacement’ if it does not work, and ‘repaired cost-free’ whenever it needs maintenance attention. The best education, on the other hand, is the opposite on all standards of excellence. It cannot be produced or delivered by another at all, is never ready-made nor instant, and cannot be guaranteed replacement or service cost-free if it is not working. The higher the standards it has, the less it can be immediate in yield, the more work it demands of its owner, and the more its failures must be overcome by its possessor’s own work. An education can never be ‘problem-free’, and poses ever deeper and wider problems the higher the level of excellence it achieves.

Freedom in the market is the enjoyment of whatever one is able to buy from others with no questions asked, and profit from whatever one is able to sell to others with no requirement to answer to anyone else. Freedom in the place of education, on the other hand, is precisely the freedom to question, and to seek answers, whether it offends people’s self-gratification or not…what is the best policy for buying a product – to assert the customer’s claim ‘as always right’ – is the worst possible policy for a learner. What is the best policy for selling a product – to offend no one and no vested interest – may be the worst possible policy for an educator. The principles of freedom here are contradictory, and become the more so the more each is realized.”

J. McMurtry, “Education and the market model”

“That education policy reflects the zeitgeist shouldn’t surprise us; capitalism has a wonderful
knack for marginalizing (or co-opting) systems of value that might pose an alternative to its own. Still, capitalism’s success in this case is particularly elegant: by bringing education to heel, by forcing it to meet its criteria for ‘success,’ the market is well on the way to controlling a majority share of the one business that might offer a competing product, that might question its assumptions. . . . By downsizing
what is most dangerous (and most essential) about our education, namely the deep civic function of the arts and the humanities, we’re well on the way to producing a nation of employees, not
citizens. Thus is the world made safe for commerce, but not safe.”

Mark Slouka, Harper’s Magazine, Sept. 2009

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