Dit nieuwe ‘Collini’-post gaat over de relaties tussen hoger onderwijs en samenleving (citaten ‘De buitenwereld’): daarom voortvloeit hij uit de voorgaande aflevering (‘Universiteit géén bedrijf’ en ‘Investeren in de universiteit’) én vormt hij ook een bruggetje naar het volgende (en laatste) post met citaten uit het boek van Stefan Collini (‘Meten is weten?’).
De buitenwereld (1)
«Defensiveness of another kind comes into play when universities are asked to demonstrate that they are actually doing what they say they are doing […] The interest of ‘the public’, it is argued, needs to be enforced by installing mechanisms for properly public scrutiny. And these will tend to be the most mechanical of mechanisms because they must translate complex and elusive human achievements into some kind of measurable ‘data’ that are comprehensible to a non-expert public. But what if the activity being scrutinized is not, beyond a certain minimal level, susceptible to effective regulation of this kind, since its quality is a matter of informed judgement? In such cases, a substitute has to be found, something that can stand proxy for the real activity so that the appearance of public scrutiny can be maintained […] What is asked for now is not any insight into how learning happens or how minds may be enlarged, but a confirmation to third parties that the announced procedures have been followed. It is another example of the fallacy of accountability – that is, the belief that the process of reporting on an activity in the approved form provides some guarantee that something worthwhile has been properly done […] The reliance on publicly scrutinizable procedures as a substitute for reasoned argument involves an endless deferral of judgement, or at the very least its burial under layers of ostensibly value-neutral bureaucratese» (p. 107-109).
De buitenwereld (2)
«… the ancient Athenians talked of ‘citizens’ rather than ‘tax-payers’, which in itself tended to make for a better class of discussion. But they were also not so likely to make the common contemporary mistake of confusing accountability with judgement. A process of external scrutiny can determine whether the money allocated for research has indeed been spent on research, or whether instead a particular department blew it all on a staff outing to EuroDisney followed by an extravagant meal at a Paris restaurant. That is accountability. But such a process of external scrutiny cannot really determine whether any of the members of that department are thinking valuable thoughts» (p. 139) «… it’s usually at about this point in the argument that an appearance is made by one of the more bizarre and exotic products of the human imagination, namely a wholly fictive place called ‘the real world’. This sumptuously improbable fantasy is quite unlike the actual world you and I live in […] this invented entity called ‘the real world’ is inhabited exclusively by hard-faced robots who devote themselves single-mindedly to the task of making money. They work and then they die […] Personally, I’ve never been able to take this so-called ‘real world’ very seriously. It’s obviously the brainchild of cloistered businessmen, living in their ivory factories and out of touch with the kinds of things that matter to ordinary people like you and me» (p. 144-145).
Het Kafka-plaatje komt uit de website Think humanities Amsterdam.