I am a proponent of paid high school study abroad programs and more independent online classes for high school students. Economist Tyler Cowen in an extended public conversation with the author and social critic Camille Paglia asks the following question involving both study abroad and online education (starting at minute 13 of the above Youtube):
COWEN: I understand. Education, some questions about education. There’s a new model school called Minerva, where you take four years, you spend each of the four years in a foreign country. One year in Buenos Aires, one in Istanbul, one in Bangalore, I think.
You work in small classes, but the classes are all online. There’s no library. There’s no formal campus, per se. It’s been around for about two years. What do you think? What’s your prediction?
PAGLIA: I think the idea of sending young people abroad is great. I think that is a proper use of the money that’s going down the tubes at the major universities right now. For parents to think — it would profit young people a lot to be exposed to the world. Right now, our primary school education is absolutely appalling in its lack of world history and world geography.
I know because I get everyone in my classroom. I’m lucky I teach at a kind of school where I’m getting students from a wide range of preparation. There might be a couple private school people, but people from the inner city, from good schools, from bad schools. I really have a very clear sense, after 40 years of teaching, what’s going on at the primary school level.
It is unbelievable how little they know. It is absolutely shocking how little they know. This is a recipe for a disaster. I say yes, send them abroad. Fantastic idea.
This other thing of the online thing, I don’t believe this online thing at all. I think that you need a live person, and you need a live person who can talk extemporaneously and respond to the moment. Not just people who are reading the same old damn lecture over and over again.
Also, the kind of teaching that goes on in the Ivy League where there’s a flattering. There’s these small seminar things.
COWEN: The A-minus seminar, right?
PAGLIA: There’s all this practice and learning how to talk in a slightly pretentious way about things and impressing each other. So what? They’re all packaging them for the bourgeoisie.
COWEN: Send them to Brazil, right?
PAGLIA: They’re so proud of themselves as they produce all these clones, these polished, bourgeois clones, witless, knowing nothing.
Full transcript is here