When I studied we had a payment plan in Australia called the HECs debt, which I finally paid off a few years ago. It irks me that tertiary education isn't free, considering it means that only the reasonably well positioned people in society will become more socially mobile because they can, and will, be able to afford it in the first place. It irks me even more later in life as I'm looking at changing careers or quitting a job I'm unhappy with, because I'd love to formally study herbalism, but that's a three year degree here and costs you around 50 grand. My son's doing a sound and audio engineering degree that he loves and he'll be paying that 50 grand off for a good part of his life. Most of our family (well, our generation anyway) have university degrees, but we'd all argue that there isn't much from that time we count as valuable knowledge know, except maybe just that enough to get you into a paid career with the piece of paper to allow that pay scale.
We used to be book addicts. Everything we wanted to learn and read about came from books squirrelled from op shops. When Jamie and I first got together we bought a lot of books on building green, gardening, herbalism and the like. There wasn't anything you couldn't learn in a book. I'm still fond of picking up books from op shops (charity shops) and perusing them over a morning cuppa. There's just something so tactile and delicious about them. I hate to think books are dying. These days, we don't buy many. I think that's a shame, and to be honest, I'd rather read a book more than anything. But most of the information I need is on the internet, so sadly I'm reluctant to part with hard earned money on books that I'm going exhuast eventually and just have sitting there gathering dust. In fact, I'm going to sell some of the less thumbed ones soon. But give me the written word over a visual anyday - I'm not that keen on learning from videos. I do like a podcast though coz I can be doing whilst I'm listening. Radio is still a wonderful education resource for me.
I'm also journaling a lot about what I read about plant medicines - basically whatever herb I'm studying goes into a journal where I make notes based on studies and other information I've read on the internet. I know there's a lot of great youtube herbalists out there but I would still rather read. I'm glad I learnt study skills at university - believe me, I teach a lot of kids who have no clue how to organise themselves to study on their own.
Youtube though is my husband's thing. Around tea time he'll sit himself down and watch endless youtube. As he's a home mechanic he loves watching other mechanics build stuff - Peter Anderson is one he watches religiously. Kudos to all the mechanics, makers, crafters and DIY folk taking the time to create these videos for us. I always say that Jamie should start a channel and part of him would like to, but he's usually too busy doing to think about
filming and editing it.
Lately he's been watching a lot of videos on gold prospecting in Victoria. One guy found a 100 K nugget out in the old gold fields recently - if we find that don't expect to see us on Steem making pennies anymore, haha! I don't mind watching Vo-Gus, he's kinda cute in a skinny beardy kinda way.
He also watches a lot of videos on physics, of course. He's a physicist. I enjoy learning about string theory and the like but it usually falls out of my head straight away anyway. But I do feel momentarily smarter for accidentally watching them.
When we're doing DIY he'll often look up 'how to' videos. Bushcraft is also another obsession and he'll watch tons on that. He finds it quite relaxing watching other people light fires and build shelters. My favourite is Primitive Technologies. I like to think we'd be pretty resilient in a zombie apocalypse, going bush with all our skills learnt from watching this guy.
I like to think of as fairly savvy people, practical as well as intellectual and academic, but unless you got a piece of paper from a university you can't just walk into a job having watched tons of youtube clips. Sadly universities are businesses - and where there is money, there are restrictions on freedoms. A shame in this era of information - everything is at our fingertips and with enough motivation you can learn anything you want without going to uni.
It's a rainy day here in Victoria and we're kinda exhausted from doing stuff, so Jamie has settled in for the afternoon. So far, his youtube topics of choice have been:
- Beard shaping
- Exploring Mining tunnels
- Trucks on treacherous roads in India
- Rare Australian coins and how to spot them
- Sights and sounds of London in early '20's
- 1902 footage of Halifax
- Mudlarking the Thames
As I've been steeming I've been looking up every now and then, or being forced to as he does a running commentary, but it's interesting all the same.
As for whether youtube, augmented realities or other technologies can replace education, that's a whole other topic. We're both teachers, and have seen much of the debate and pedagogy about this. Universities and schools are certainly looking into things like flipped classrooms and online learning and having tutorials to discuss and clarify what's been watched online. As far as school age students go, I don't think you can replace the personal experience - plus, you need a lot of instrinsic versus extrinsic motivation - if you can't be bothered working to learn, you ain't gonna learn it. I know a lot of people will be writing about what crap teachers they had at school but that's not always the case and education has changed a lot too, and is changing (well, I hope so!). I teach English/Literature, and that's an odd one - whilst in Science you can get kids to watch Kahn Academy to clarify, say, thermodynamics, it doesn't quite work that way with Lit - you have to read and discuss and critique to really 'get' it. Sadly we're living in a time where visual mediums and an image driven internet/media age has replaced literature alot (I've seen this first hand in ten years of teaching - I'm not even generalising when I'm saying kids don't read anymore and I think that's really sad).
You also have to consider that really, one has to learn how to study to retain information and apply what's learn to other situations. I'm not sure that all people are capable of this without a more structured education to teach them to do so and there's a certain rigour that academics provide that simply watching youtube can't really replace.
Certainly, we live in an age where we are lucky to have so much free information accessible to all but I'm not convinced you can do away with more formal education entirely.
What have you been watching on the 'tube? Can the internet and other tech replace university education?
This is in response to the Ecotrain QOTW this week - check it out here. It's about 'university vs youtube'.