This is a microcosm of America. I seem to spend most of my time attempting to avoid saying that this complex, interwoven set of human disasters cannot be teased apart. As you note this is not a new or superficial set of problems.

Analogies are all we have but one is never enough. The structural problem of higher education is the result of a 19th century construct converted into a 20th century nest of sinecures. That was inadvertently blessed with a huge and selfless population of people who achieved high levels of education for generations of students. This is the story of Western Civilization writ small.

The inherent problems in attitudes, values, willful ignorance, and racism permeate the whole thing like an infection. The next analogy is a Russian doll with related diseases and symptoms at all levels. Open up any one of the inserts and find a specific set of outcomes from the related diseases.

People do not think this way. We want linear problems that are made up of distinct and identifiable causes. Instinctively, those who have learned to do this, want to break all of this down and solve the individual problems but that just leaves us with a new layer of fractal disasters. And that happens, confusingly, at all magnifications going up in scale or down to the smallest components.

One more mix of analogies, the diseases that were chronic for decades have been triggered to critical levels by the far larger growths now at the planetary level. This moves from biology to physics and the achievement of critical mass for a self sustained explosion and a critical disease metastasizing as a consuming cancer.

I suppose we could say that we are living within the great human hairball of death and higher education in America is a perfect miniature. Of course this does nothing to help. You can’t fix part without fixing the whole.

The layers and interlinked symptoms are beyond are ability to handle so we give up in frustration and become fascinated with apocalyptic visions and internalized fears. But at the human level is your student being demeaned, abused, denied, and put at risk for the benefit of a few.

We are told there is no known solution because any solution quickly questions the foundational assumptions of the civilization we have built. That is not possible. The only possible solution is to ignore all of the problems.

Sound familiar?

Written by

Educator, CIO, retired entrepreneur, grandfather with occasional fits of humor in the midst of disaster. . .

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