Here‘s an interesting idea for a “proletarian university”:
‘What about a self-organised ‘proletarian university’ that runs one night a week in cheap spaces? Given enough willing lecturers, academics could offer one 2-hour lecture of their choice (or in a more co-ordinated way?) once every three or six months. These could be lectures with the aim of introducing people, including beginners, to topics and thinkers of interest. Participants would go away with some ideas, maybe reading lists, to help with further study. Proletarian university could start with an open-ended syllabus entitled ‘Proletarian Philosophy’. Who knows after that?
People could pay a small fee depending on the cost of the space etc. People on benefits come for free. Those with jobs pay in full. Students get concessions. Lecturers get paid something.’
Why not just go for a free university? I mean if it’s only one lecture every once in a while, what reasonable person would not do it for free? When I went to the university during the Soviet times, I was paid a stipend to go, everyone was, that is, government paid students to go to school. The quality of education was superb as well, even in provincial universities. I’m still not sure what to make of this strange Western idea that the more you pay for your education, the better it supposedly is.
The problem I think is clearly that of the institutional nature of education – people don’t go to school to get education, they go to get a diploma (in most cases, of course), if I could be pessimistic for a moment. If one were truly looking for education, one could easily do so by reading books, finding online lectures, and so on. Although we think of “self-taught” as a compliment, I think that anyone who is educated in some subject area is to a certain extent a “self-taught” person.
Maybe this is just an end-of-semester mood, but every time I see another group of students take their final test and leave, I wonder if they have learned anything from my class. Of course they learned something, but did it have anything to do with philosophy?