Where does that leave traditional science in an open information age? I say in the dust. Modern academic culture and the hurdles they place to exclude the uneducated masses is quickly being left behind.
In the US, K12 schools are social clubs kept alive by the popular who loved the experience so much they got teaching degrees and went back. Teaching by committee excludes the free-thinking that led people to our greatest discoveries. The higher the education the more preposterous the terms. Want a university degree? Be prepared to take on a $60,000-$200,000 debt. A graduate degree? Only if you are exactly like all of the other graduate students, professors, etc. Forget about an education if you don't fit the mold, you are told that maybe academia just isn't for you. Why not try a trade? After all the how would all of the professors get to work without factory workers to build their cars and buses?
The club excludes those who don't care to remember dates and facts but rather leave it up to good old Google to keep them informed. It excludes those who start late, early, work too fast, too slow, think too much or not enough.
Why? Because by opening the university system to all (get rid of entrance exams and make courses affordable) those entrenched in the system risk losing their jobs. I had a chemistry 'professor' that didn't provide any instruction rather handed you a book and provided three exams that he didn't even prepare, they were taken verbatim from a generic website for environmental chemistry! I did fine but I wasn't surprised to see the high rate of failure in the course. We need an alternative to the classist system of the dark-ages. Why do we need to test test test only to enter into a profession where we use 1% (at best) of the information we were tested on. We need practical skills and critical/analytical thinking. I have yet to see a test that can give you those skills.
We are starting to see that change with the open-learning initiatives that many schools are promoting. A greater number of lectures are available online through Harvard, Berkeley, Brown and others. Great, so how about letting those willing to learn and put in the time get a degree for their work?
I have met many an academic with no real skills or knowledge but their degree certainly sounds impressive. Onward and upward oh wait that should say downward and backward, just like the international societal trend. I laugh that the President used the Sputnik example. Russia is obviously a beacon of hope for the free world! We need to stop looking to the past for examples since they have clearly failed us. Ooooooh we have satellites and we can monitor climate change! Maybe we should work on NOT causing climate change which doesn't require any new technologies, just less technology. This is a new moment with new significance. There is no enemy and we are NOT competing against other nations. We need to collaborate. We don't need to beat anyone in any race. Let us put out our fires first, build anew, and try not to muck it up again.
Starting with education. Maybe we don't need to rank every child from A to fail. Maybe the lessons learned aren't the ones you wanted to teach but they are lessons none the less.