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Education: Revamped and Free – Join the Global Struggle

December 2, 2012

Original article published by elephant journal

Mobilization, passion and commitment to a just educational system recently riddled the Montreal community. Government had imposed tuition hikes that students, teachers and citizens reasoned were unjust, resulting in organized protest and strike. Through trials and tribulations, efforts succeeded in victory when government cancelled the tuition hikes.

Although that battle was won, the fight continues for free education in Montreal and globally, as a growing movement gains momentum.

Zeal for free, emancipatory education was demonstrated during “Global Education Strike” week, November 14 – 22, 2012, while international groups and individuals supported the initiative in the face of injustice.

The International Student Movement fights for free and emancipatory education as a human right excused from restrictive participant fees and operated through democratically structured educational entities/institutions.

Evident correlations between a competitive global economic system and a market education, where “education factories are producing human capital,” commercializing and merchandising learning in a competitive environment that treats students as both consumers of education and commodities to invest (e.g. student loans, where returns are due for investments). Students become links within a market chain, being taught what others chose they should learn in order to compete and serve in a capitalist society. Although this could be viewed as a generalization, there will always be outlying deviations, while the overarching ideals of higher education support it.

With slogans such as “one world, one struggle” and “we are many youth, but with one struggle,” impassioned people are fighting for what’s right. Is this counter-culture? Or does it represent the way it ought to be?

Do we not share a universal right to develop intellectual and artistic abilities? Are costs, restrictions and structures of the educational system justified?

“All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man’s life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual toward freedom.”

~ Albert Einstein

Einstein did not see developmental human rights as a commodity subject to market parameters, but as a natural path individuals deserve access to.

Pioneering technology being used to offer free education online presents an alternative, hopeful approach.

Universities and individuals are teaming to forge free online courses, dubbed MOOCSs, for Massive Open Online Courses.

Instead of paying odious tuition for a middle-rate education, people can learn from Ivy League professors for free.

A handful of entities already exist, including seminal Kahn Academy; new this year Udacity; MIT, Harvard, Berkeley and The University of Texas System’s edX; and the 33-university-consortium Courseraall offering free courses in countless subject areas.

Some courses offer online instructional videos while others provide direct footage of lectures given on university campuses, where students are physically there, paying for the same material. Although MOOCs lack direct teacher-student guidance and relationships, many do offer worksheets, systems of feedback and more.

Traditional universities may soon accept MOOC credit. While exploring procedural and testing standards are developed, student learning from completed MOOC courses will begin evaluation next year.

Whether credit transfer, degrees, certificates or acknowledgment by application officials, offering MOOC accreditation of any form will increase motivation to complete courses with ambition–we all like rewards and recognition.

Whether a traditional student looking to amp your understanding in a particular area, an individual seeking education lacking monetary means to university, a curious mind looking to stimulate intellect or anyone, for any reason, explore and utilize these online learning platforms.

All are encouraged to familiarize, and if so inclined, involve with this universal struggle–it is our right.

Insight for afterthought:

Every time I spoke of Montreal demonstrations in the U.S., even people within educational systems were unaware. How could this be?

Why did media choose not to publicize major demonstrations, even miles above an educational hub in the Northeast, while a friend returning from Thailand brought a daily newspaper displaying a front-page presentation of the protest situation in Montreal?

Maybe worry that students in America, already paying significantly higher rates than Quebec and other countries of the world–some paying nothing–would hear inspiration calling to stand up against commoditized, capitalist coordinated education in the name of human justice.

We all deserve the ability to flex our intellectual and artistic capacity towards individual freedom.

Let the quest for truth and knowledge for its own sake be justified.

How do you feel about America’s higher educational system? Does the International Student Movement strike a chord with you? What can we do as local individuals of a global collective? How can we motivate? Do you see free online education as a feasible structure for the future?

Please share comments and reflections.

View original article via elephant journal


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