Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Little Too Familiar

I’m very sorry,but, living on the other side of the world, I haven’t a clue who Gary North is, but I like what he is reported to have written in Reality Check, August 18, 2009
Apparently, to quote Mr. North, “The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has begun the most revolutionary experiment in the history of education, stretching all the way back to the pharaohs. It now gives away its curriculum to anyone smart enough to learn it. It has posted its curriculum on-line for free.”

As the article proceeds the author, under the heading, “The Nature of this Revolutionary Experiment”, goes on to say, “For as long as there have been priesthoods, there has been formal classroom education.
The Egyptian priests had classrooms, lectures, and students taking notes.
The Jews had schools where bright young men came to learn the Hebrew texts and memorize the oral tradition, which began being written down in the second century A.D. This oral tradition was written down centuries later: the Mishnah and the Talmud.
The Classical Greeks had academies. Plato and Aristotle taught young men the rudiments of philosophy.
The Greeks also had medical schools.
These programs were closed to most outsiders. A student had to be accepted. He also had to pay. In most cases, the information was secret.

He then goes on to say that the student was bound by an oath of secrecy. In the case of the above medical students, the Hippocratic Oath, which, apart from being sworn in the name of pagan entities, included the following words,
“To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art -- if they desire to learn it -- without fee and covenant; to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken an oath according to the medical law, but no one else.”

I couldn't help but think how familiar it sounds as North rightly asserts that “the training created a medical guild”, which, “functioned as an oligopoly. It kept prices high by restricting access to the training.
This is what the college diploma has always done. It has created a guild that restricts entry by non-certified people. This keeps wages high.
To obtain the diploma, a person must pay money to the trainers. The trainers are located at one center or special regional centers. Journeying to the center adds costs. Quitting a full-time job back home also adds to the expense. Forcing students to attend pre-requisites adds to the cost. Everything is done to screen access to the knowledge.
So, the knowledge does not spread. This is the crucial function of the academic screening system, especially for practical knowledge: healing people and building things.
“For the first time in the history of man, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has opened the gates to all comers. It has said, "You won't get certified by us, but you can get the classroom knowledge. If you are smart enough to teach yourself, you will have the knowledge."
MIT has now removed the most important layers of bureaucracy: the layers associated with classroom instruction.
1. The fee to obtain the training
2. The cost of journeying to a training center
3. The pre-requisite system
4. The cost of quitting your job
This has de-mystified the entire guild procedure. It says this: "If you are smart enough, you can master the initial content."
This opens the door for the revival of the local apprenticeship system. Here is where a student masters the non-textbook basics of a field, which are at least as important as the textbook content.

Think about it! Isn't the "guild system" what we have in the traditional church
scene today, with a few holding the "secrets" and passing on just enough information to keep people dependent on them?

The local church is the theological college of Scripture, the elders the academic staff, those they disciple, their apprentices. With the tutelage of the elders (who ought not be elders unless demonstrating, wisdom , knowledge of the Scriptures and character, all of which has grown from long experience as a follower of Christ), both the text book and the non-text book aspects can be taught, without the top heavy, expensive bureaucracies we have inherited from secularism.

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