Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. Everything has been figured out, except how to live. One always dies too soon or too late. And yet, life is there, finished. The line is drawn, and it must all be added up. You are nothing other than your life. There is only one day left, always starting over. It is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk. We do not know what we want and yet we are responsible for what we are, that is the fact. When you live alone you no longer know what it is to tell a story: the plausible disappears at the same time as the friends. You let events flow by too.Suddenly you see people appear who speak and then go away; you plunge into stories of which you can't make head or tail. You'd make a terrible witness. It is true that people who live in society have learned how to see themselves in mirrors as they appear to their friends. Luckily, I only have a few...

Dr Shaw is a lecturer in Further Education at Edge Hill University, Ormskirk. She also offers philosophy courses at the School of Continuing Education, Lifelong learning, at the University of Liverpool. In 2015, she has completed her Doctorate in philosophy with a focus on existentialism, the equilibrium doctrine and narrative. She has worked as a teacher of English and Comparative literature and Philosophy at The American University in Cairo, Egypt where she also obtained her BA (Hons). Dr Shaw has an MA in Philosophy and Literature from the University of East Anglia where she also taught on a number of humanities subjects. Whilst working in North Wales in Further education, she gained a PGCE aimed at teaching in FE and HE sectors. Dr Shaw moved to Liverpool in 2010 where she now resides.

Interests: Existentialism, Narrative, Comparative Literature, Feminist Thought, Public Speaking, Arab Existentialism, Philosophy of Education, Art, Music, Film and Theatre, Greek Mythology, Existential counsellor and psychotherapist.


Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Today, 22nd Oct 2013, part of the Autumn series of talks organized by the Union for education professionals (UCU) was a live broadcast of MIT's Professor Noam Chomsky. It was such an honor to attend and listen to Professor Chomsky's comments on the place of university in today's society and the direction of education. Professor Chomsky began by highlighting the many issues that our world seem to suffer from today from general stagnation to specific problems of politics and democracy. He no doubt wrote openly about his views as a linguist and as a philosophers. But it was great to hear his views as perhaps an education reformer or someone who at least see education shifting in a certain direction. Professor Chomsky stated that the government has no right in "devaluing" education in such a way that it is no longer a place for knowledge but rather a cooperation. A business in an industrial system that requires profits regardless of its customers' needs. The "new spirit of the age" as he called it is a term used by many thinkers when talking about social and economical crisis or trends in our present day. It is clear that because people started to wonder about the value of what they are really getting from services to eduction, we are seeing more and more strikes and signs of people's objection. Funny enough Chomsky commented "the system worked fine when its citizens were passive and obedient" This is of course true of many countries today that have recently been through times of turmoil as a result of political and social reforms. Talking for example about the rise in tuition, Chomsky explained that before a student could claim bankruptcy and his debts will be written off. Now there seem to be no expiry period for such debts, thus, a student can lose on future salary and any benefits he may be getting just because they will automatically be taken away to cover his initial debts. It sounded to me indeed like a vicious circle where students have fallen victims with or without awareness. Germany for example and Finland have free education, why can't other countries follow? Isn't the right to good education a simple and basic human right?! The direction of education today is a pessimistic one clearly as the primary victims are students who are plunged into debts at the sheer scam of a "business like model of education" Chomsky joked about one making a call only to be answered by a machine then options that often do not include what you are inquiring about or needing. One the one hand, this period of waiting on the phone is efficient for businesses as they can keep you in the line while they attend to others' calls but on the other hand, this is a waste of your time and very possibly money if the call was not free. Chomsky is saying that today the most vulnerable in education are graduates who are paid less, expected to do more and become replaceable. The privatization plan is to limit consumers' choices by ruining something in such a way that a consumer find no other way but to accept the concept of privatization. This does not help human progress at all. There has been a debate about What education OUGHT to be. Of course in the Enlightenment period when there were provocative images. Education was seen as 1. A vessel for water (a leaky one of course) and 2. as a foster of exploration and designed to aid understanding. However, what the new spirit of the age expects is: Obedience, devalue of human life and of course, wealth. On an end note, Chomsky says, he see that there is still hope with dedicated effort and careful thought, activism from civilized groups of society, things will improve... In Q & A : Chomsky mentioned how MIT used to get in the 50s and 60s its funding from the Pentagon to help the poorer population. From the late 60s till today, the funding declined and more cooperative funding are emerging as a consequence of organization wanting to fund projects that will benefit them and bring them profit. These projects used to be in he field of technology and electronics, now they are mostly concerned with pharmaceutical and biological projects. It seems therefore that the options for research for students are determined by economy and interests from industry and not anything else. This is of course a shame as it is in a way an exploitation of intellectuals and researchers for the sake of businesses and cooperation financial and economical growths. And to end, Chomsky mentioned a question that he'd been asked and left the audience giggling when he attempted to come to UK was "How can your research contribute to British economy?" What a fantastic live broadcast that was, one day I will look back at this and have a big sigh. Thanks to the education Union (UCU) ulivucu.org.uk

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