This is currently a hot topic, at least in California.
I spoke to my neighbor over coffee this morning, she works as an instructor at several Bay Area community colleges. She mentioned all the severe changes state school boards are planning for the upcoming season. Many courses are going away due to lack of funding, and liberal arts is one of several fields that are on the ‘hit list’. So far engineering, architecture, medical, IT fields are safe as expected. Eventually I inquired about the creative field and interesting enough, courses in Design, Graphic Communication, Film, Video and Sound are not affected at the moment. However, courses in film related studies, philosophy and academics may end up on the chopping block. Electives like ‘Films of Alfred Hitchcock Analysis 101’ might not be around much longer.
When it comes to arts, it looked like state public school is tightening its belt to focus mainly on vocational education, which at this present economy is not entirely a bad thing i.m.o.
I really value the liberal arts, but I think this isn’t an easy problem to deal with. When money is tight, which classes should be cut? We have a work force in need of retraining, so those vocational courses shouldn’t be easily dismissed. At the same time, I think the liberal arts courses—if they emphasize writing and critical thinking (which they often do) and a wide breath of knowledge (if done right, you can expose students to the greatest thinkers of all time)—are really important—and maybe the wiser course for most students? I say “wiser” because if the students were like me and my generation, they’re not sure what they want to do when they graduate. Choosing classes based on career aspirations is a dicey approach, as they often learn they don’t like the field. Then what? Of course, all is not lost, but personally I think it’s more productive and wise to study the liberal arts and develop writing and thinking skills. These skills wil be valuable not matter what job you get, and they will be valuable in all areas of your life.
But that doesn’t really answer the question. I’m not sure what to think, but perhaps there are some schools (like community colleges) that should emphasize one over the other. Moreover, perhaps we need to discuss prioritize both vocational and liberal arts classes—and cut the lower priority ones from both.
Jazz, from what I gathered on my conversation, all the things you mentioned are at the heart of the argument with regards to the ongoing debate/ reviews about which courses stay and which ones go, as far as the creative field is concerned. The state is broke and it’s probably the re-employment/ work force factor that is the priority right now. At least it still look good for filmmaking in general.
Here’s a question: what priority would you give to film studies—especially in relation to other liberal arts disciplines? Let me put it another way. If you laid out all the Great Books (non-fiction included), and other great works of Art (including music), where would great films fit in?
Me, the Great Books would take a higher priority than visual arts, music, dance and film (although I don’t see why they couldn’t be one course offered on each of these at least).
Not here in Texas, but that’s because I’m in a special school so I’m not so sure.
I know this is a tangent… but I think placing emphasis on Great Books over the other arts is a huge mistake. Reading the Great Books isn’t a holistic process. It’s all brain, and the enterprise of reading the past divorces the human sensory experience of also having a body. Not only should people be critical thinkers, but we should strive to be balanced in critical visually, audibly, bodily … etc. Emphasize the brain too much, and the body becomes an atrophied vessel. Then the brain juices dry up and are poisoned from the self-inflicted decay from the neck down.
As far as my opinion for your friend teaching film theory and analysis… My advice, not that she is asking, is that I would look at the shrinking funding as an opportunity to become relevant in other ways. Maybe she should write a book, or make a film. Host a symposium or lecture.
Reading about the current state of education, and the economy is really distressing. The power of higher education seems to be the last Santa Claus that adults and children alike seem to still believe in. I want to root for it, but the reality is that education is a profitable business, and a means of controlling the masses by instilling fear — bonded by debt-laiden shackles.
Education is a hedge against controlling the masses, provided that education is geared at teaching critical thinking and independent research skills. (Though the best time for that is high school).
But it sounds from the original post like the only art courses being cut are the ones about analyzing art, not producing art. I’ve never taken a course of that nature where I felt the goal was to make me think for myself. I took one philosophy course where I learned all about philosophers like Plato, Locke, Mill, etc, and that was useful, but is there a reason for publicly funded institutions to be running classes where you just watch films and talk about them?
I associate those sorts of classes with kids whose parents paid for them to go to expensive liberal arts schools and want to find the easiest credit possible.
They need to do away with private school vouchers.
Bet you they will not sell the Chancellor’s mansion and yatch….. And the board of trustees meetings always have plenty of
It’s good to be the Chancellor!
In Texas, the smaller colleges have three to four film studies courses at most, and they stick towards the canon of whatever they cover. We can’t afford any more budget cuts to our liberal arts programs.
“We can’t afford any more budget cuts to our liberal arts programs.”
“…the only art courses being cut are the ones about analyzing art, not producing art”
whoever said that the two practices were separate (or, indeed, even separable)?
with regard to what other people are saying the general gist seems to be that liberal arts/humanities do not instantly produce a commodity which stimulates the economy, ergo they should be eliminated. To me this seems to indicate fundamental flaws in what standard economic indices valorize (war! sick hospital inmates running up bills! spending on crap no one needs!), and every effort should be made to counter this way of thinking.
the purpose of education is misconceived to be a means to get a job in our era. this is explicitly not what university education is designed to (or in my opinion, even should) do. There is honestly no point in getting a 4 yr engineering college degree, besides networking and foot in the door internships. Most all the learning in technical fields happens on the job. But unless you’re an autodidact (or blessed with some innate capacity), you will not learn how to critically analyze the written word, unless you go to a 4 year liberal arts college. Most people, even grownups, don’t really know how to read.
Jirin, is indeed right, that education should ideally be a hedge against controlling the masses, but for this the desegregation of non-employment generating educational opportunities (read: a good liberal arts education) should be opened to people of humble means, the working class, so that they aren’t solely limited to eucation of a technical nature (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but being limited is clearly undesirable).
In Norway they pay you to go to school. My good friend who is dutch-scots, was paid by the dutch government to go to school as a naturalized dutch citizen and got a free ride from the university of edinburgh, scotland, because she was born there. Education should totally not be for profit, and be subsidized by public funds. Neoliberal austerity does not work, and to apply it to education is kind of egregious.
Being anti-intellectual/anti-education is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. The situation in the US is untenable, it will continute to create greater inequities.
“We may thus expect a thorough exteriorisation of knowledge with respect to the “knower,” at whatever point he or she may occupy in the knowledge process. The old principle that the acquisition of knowledge is indissociable from the training (Bildung) of minds, or even of individuals, is becoming obsolete and will become ever more so. The relationships of the suppliers and users of knowledge to the knowledge they supply and use is now tending, and will increasingly tend, to assume the form already taken by the relationship of commodity producers and consumers to the commodities they produce and consume – that is, the form of value. Knowledge is and will be produced in order to be sold, it is and will be consumed in order to be valorised in a new production: in both cases, the goal is exchange.
Knowledge ceases to be an end in itself, it loses its “use-value.”"
The Postmodern Condition:
A Report on Knowledge
By Lyotard (1979)
“Knowledge is and will be produced in order to be sold, it is and will be consumed in order to be valorised in a new production: in both cases, the goal is exchange.”
Hook em’ while they’re young!
I’m only going to be a little nitpicky on this statement:
“There is honestly no point in getting a 4 yr engineering college degree, besides networking and foot in the door internships. Most all the learning in technical fields happens on the job.”
False, though I think the point you are trying to make is going to end up similar to the counterargument I’m about to make. You already said, “whoever said that the two practices were separate (or, indeed, even separable)?” I.e., the interdigitation of theory and practice. There is a BIG point to get a specialist degree in a field, and that is to teach you the foundations of the work you are going to learn on the job. You can’t just throw someone in an engineering office or you have pretty much as literally as you can get people ‘rebuilding the wheel’. Educating in order to provide these foundations (these ideas resulted in this, these resulted in that, here’s why and the process connected, apply this knowledge in this safe educational environment so you’re not designing bridges that fall apart under the weight of the applied traffic) is very necessary, unless, as you say, you are the rare autodidact that designed from equivalent independent research and made provably useful designs.
Now all of that is not to disagree with Lyotard’s point. Part of the reason I think this phenomenon occurs is it’s just much much simpler to account for someone’s ‘value’ or ‘usefulness’ if they provide a tangible product you can see and consume. This doesn’t make it correct to associate value or use to product at expense to intellectual and social valuations, but I’m just saying it’s easier so when there’s so much information and things to account for in a huge 7billion populace world, the producers get more attention than the theorists.
The only way to collectively change those values are to educate people, which means this is a recursive argument and an uphill battle (to mix metaphors).
“Now all of that is not to disagree with Lyotard’s point. Part of the reason I think this phenomenon occurs is it’s just much much simpler to account for someone’s ‘value’ or ‘usefulness’ if they provide a tangible product you can see and consume.”
You should try to read the whole text, that is why the link is included. it is about the turn in the role of knowldge in contemporary society.
But isn’t that ‘general knowledge’ education more the domain of high school education than secondary education? I don’t think film studies should be eliminated, but should they be funded with public money? Shouldn’t public secondary education be geared toward ‘teaching people to fish’ so we can maybe hand out fewer fishes?
I believe that one year in social studies class in both middle school and high school should be geared toward understanding and learning how to debate current issues. You raise a current issue, discuss the historical precedents, the cultural context and the position of both sides. Then have one half of the class argue for one side, and the other half for the other. Then everyone switches. Then everybody writes a paper on it that must cite a minimum number of sources.
Heck, don’t just teach them how to be technicians, teach them how to start a business. Teach them economics. Teach them history and debate. That’s the way to give people power over their own lives and make them not dependent on anyone else.
Having a broad swath of classes available so you can explore things you’re interested in and broaden your exposure is great, but it’s not the government’s responsibility.
And I would definitely prefer vouchers for private schools over public schools. Give children a superior education for less cost to the public. Do you know that most public schools in America are forced to buy textbooks whose content is dictated by the Texas Board of Education?! So if ten people in Texas think evolution is fake, all public school students are taught that it’s fake. They also teach that Joe McCarthy was right to drag people in front of an inquisition over mild suspicion of being a Communist sympathizer.
Public education is politically censored by nature, so why not have a system that ensures all children are entitled access to education, but doesn’t give any political control over the ciriculum?
I’ve mentioned before my ambivalence about academia. I come from a strong academic background and very much developmentally sutured into that culture, but I found my more theory-than-practice film education to be really lacking and frustrating, despite all it introduced me to alternative cinema and the like. I think theory and practice should be balanced, though it’s beyond my rights to an opinion to tell people where that balance lies.
I think the issue of practice-as-product is the presumption that a product is specifically economic transaction or exchange, when much practice can and is DIY… and I can add FY. Do it yourself, for yourself. We seem to be trending, despite all political attempts to the contrary, toward microeconomies — increasing community gardens instead of depending entirely on commercial agriculture, creating self-sustaining houses instead of relying on grids, reusing and reappropriating instead of throwing away and recycling. This trends are happening despite prevailing media messages to the contrary. Meat consumption is decreasing in the United States without any laws or business regulations requiring it, for instance.
It’s interesting to see that even as we’re going through the massive global growing pains of interrelated economies, individuals of first world nations are purposefully decreasing waste and consumption on their own initiative. This social reorganization is, I think, why things are so chaotic right now, because a lot of people don’t know where it’s headed and many are reacting against it from complete fear.
The purpose of education at this point in history, as I see it, is to teach people how to DIY — critical thinking, literacy, and theory should be presented so that people can do things. However, I do not think that teaching toward doing things necessarily means (or dictates) that we’re teaching toward careers or economic production. The balance I personally value is self-determination with self-representation. ‘Fish for a man, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats when he needs’ needn’t mean as it currently means ‘fish for a man, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish so that he can sell it at competitive market rates and buy corn so that both fisherman and corn grower increase abstract data known as GDP, which is inherently good as it represents higher status of living based on this one theory.’ If education isn’t teaching people to fish, I feel it deserves a bit of critical scrutiny. But it shouldn’t be a mere fisherman factory.
I suppose we’ll see.
The free market zealots and anti-tax Republicans still want to privatize everything, they don’t care about public education at all. They think the very concept of the common good is a demonic socialist idea. They’d just as soon have the poor die off, literally. They want that.