Grad Students

Its the darkest of ironies that at precisely the historical moment that the human race need as many people as possible to parse complex problems –climate change, energy crises, lock-jawed governing bodies, and brand new forms of systemic poverty– being a grad student has become something akin to a feudal apprenticeship. You are at a severe disadvantage if you do not have some source of external income and/or a profound gift for writing grants and selling yourself as a professional scholar. It means that the young scions of families that have benefited the most from corporate welfare and oligarchy are the ones that will graduate into the positions of power charged with nothing less than saving our planetary civilization. It means that the large corporate and nonprofit entities that have amassed enormous war chests will be funding and directing the research of those few graduate students that don’t have a personal stake in maintaining an unsustainable status quo.


Have you ever thought about how completely irrelevant structured learning is? Indeed. “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot unlearn and relearn.” – Alvin Toffler. The video below advocates a change in how we learn – network-centric, personal, based on your context, not based on some institution’s agenda. (Thanks to Judi Clark for sending me the link to this video.)


I spent today at the 2010 UTeach Conference here in Austin. UTeach is an acclaimed teacher prep program at the University of Texas. Attendees were mostly K-12 teachers and university professors from across the U.S. I heard about UTeach’s STEM focus (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), New Technology High Schools in Napa and Manor, project-based learning, Knowing and Learning in Math and Science, etc. I was primarily interested in the possibility of collaborative projects and learning involving multiple classrooms and disciplines, mediated by social technology. I was live tweeting the event. There were multiple sessions per time slot, so I only got a slice of it. (I also missed the events on Tuesday, and probably can’t make it tomorrow – so much more to learn about learning.)