Higher education is trapped in a competition fetish

Posted: April 18, 2016 in Moodle MOOC posts

An article whose viewpoint I share, about the competition and rankings of education institutions.

http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20160413131355443

«Competition has colonised our world. Everywhere we go, every step we take we hear the siren call of competition. In higher education, too, we are trapped in a competition fetish»

(…)

«The first is that competition is natural. Thus Darwinian natural selection is fused with what Pierre Bourdieu has called doxa… an unquestionable orthodoxy that operates as if it were the objective truth. Competition is deeply inscribed as common sense. To question competition is to be insane. It is also an act of heresy because competition is seen as central to democracy. The more areas of personal and human life that we subsume under market competition, the more democratic and civilised we appear to be.

The second mind snare is the idea that competition is legitimate and just. We have to make believe that participants have some vaguely equal opportunity at the outset. Riyad Shahjahan and Clara Morgan demonstrate very powerfully that most competitions are rigged. They demonstrate how international organisations create spaces of equivalence across countries with very different geographic, political and economic contexts.

Such contexts are delocalised and depoliticised so that they can be presented as legitimate comparative measures. This competition privileges and valorises templates that derive from centres of power. Peripheral nations and universities thus have to mimic these characteristics even if they have no chance of winning.»

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