As an exile from academia, I do feel for my employed colleagues who are having to learn distance education techniques on the fly. I do also feel compelled *ahem* to note that I was trained in online teaching long ago at Rutgers University. The school declined to hire me then, and I’ve had no offers since. Now it’s become fashionable for academics with virtually no online experience to look to the hills—whence is their help to come? It’s not very often that I can claim to have been ahead of the curve. In fact, I’m usually so far back that I don’t even know there is a curve. Mismatches like this (someone who’s always been good at teaching, and trained to do so online, who’s been deemed exile-worthy while the unprepared now brush off their virtual bona fides) occur all the time in history. It’s one of the things that makes it interesting.
Higher education isn’t a luxury. I disagree with President Obama that all people should go to college, though. Not everyone needs to. Everyone should be able to attend, however, if they feel compelled to do so. There are a number of myths about it that politicians of all stripes should seek to dispel. One is that the more education you get the higher salary you’ll be able to demand. As a Ph.D. holder I know that is decidedly not the case. There are plenty of manual labor jobs that pay better than the options open for a humanities Ph.D. earner. I also know that universities don’t tell new doctoral candidates this fact. The old ways are changing. I’ve often wondered if the collapse of civilization would be slow or rapid. Living through it I now can see it looks slow from the inside. Future historians will need to assess for future readers how it looks from the social distance of chronological clarity.
Historically crises have helped people pull together. This one seems only to have divided us further. If our government knew how, it could now model kind and considerate behavior. It doesn’t know how. The selfish often don’t comprehend how the wellbeing of others can affect their own. Some companies are beginning to realize that customer loyalty after the crisis may depend on reasonable treatment at at time like this. For others it’s more difficult than house-training a new puppy. Nobody wants to go into exile. When you do, however, you can’t help but notice how it changes your view of things. Ironically I was hired away from academia the very year I had completed my training in distance education. I can image how it might’ve been. But then, I’m living in a land not my own.