A cursory look at the higher educational institutes (more prestigious, the more trenchant in their case) shows the future. And even the past.
A university is usually always isolated from the community. In physical space, it is beyond the areas where people live. The excuse: people in academic scene need more tranquility than traffic. So always in the outskirts of the hustle and bustle of the “madding crowd”, the universities help form their own quite cheap but alienated townships.
Students are encouraged to use their own school buses, buy books from their school bookstores, shop from their co-op stores and sport their school uniforms (well, to some extent with the school logo jerseys with pride). In essence, form a distinctly different culture from the masses and stay away from their vicinities.
The classrooms are always figuratively well maintained. The corridors are high and vertically rising. The stairs leading to the college buildings are intimidating. The campus celebrates its own occasions for celebration. Awards salutations and distinguishes the achievers. Recognizes the students who have excelled and faculty who have bagged grants. All without any knowledge of the people outside. Even the campus newspaper caters to the campus.
Universities host their own games, students chant their own war cries, in order to show their allegiance and support, they shout “down down” to the guest school participants. There are almost always a tension between the faculty, the graduate students and the undergraduate students. Among the teaching assistants and the ones who are not. Among the interns and those ones who are not. Among the C graders and the A graders. Between the assistant professors and the associate professors. Between the associate professors and the full professors.
In the competitive yardsticks that it has institutionalized, the ideal university values funds more than anything else. Because the competition is then between universities themselves as structures. Universities compete to become news in elitist magazines as top schools. They actually are now functioning as followers of magazine protocols than guarding interests of disadvantaged students.
However, in the larger gamut of the killer games, the education in its pristine form never is neglected. Education is always the priority. Only issue with education being the gradual augmentation of thought-controls.
If conforming to the norms of university regulations and peer reviews which lead to faculty promotions, they in turn expect students to conform to their respective schools of thoughts as invisible grounds of favoritisms. Researches begets researches and the tools used in it become crucial. Apart from students being used in furthering the researches, it is also institutional resources which are called to task. The university on its part, promotes one unit over another for fund allocation. More often than not, few technical and management schools bag the prizes, and among them some faculty members who conform to the ideology of the project become awardees.
In effect, not only do the universities become ivory towers, but within them, certain units/schools are more ivory than the others. This naturally enough, promotes feelings of inadequacies among the neglected units. Most of them try to declare themselves to be either professional or scientific, in order to claim some authority for future grants.
As the race continues, far from the “madding crowd”, the university does not seem sane enough. By the time students graduate they face a life outside campus to be one for which they were never prepared for. If the distinctions between the world outside the university and the world within be revisited, the faults then squarely lie not on the community, but the classrooms that teach alienation from the community. The desirable and acceptable languages used (research terminologies), the methods of inquiry (fast surveys), the project goals (to produce peer-reviewed –who are themselves academic elites–brilliant works than relevant works with an agenda for people’s actions), the classroom teaching techniques (top-down vertical instructions or diplomatically speaking suggestions about what is acceptable if one needs an A) are all instruments in the hands of the university to clearly delineate the alumni from everyone else (the “they” ones).
Education, unlike any other pursuit, is idealism in another word. But with buildings named after rich donors and professors subservient to funding agencies, students have to be more than willing to sacrifice idealism.
More easily than I state this, university, then emerges as breeding grounds for future miscreants. Only it makes them smart enough and rich enough to know how to evade charges. And someday when one looks back at the world leaders of the developed world, one wonders why all of them studied at the top schools and yet desired wars with civilians more than peace with the oppressed. Their education not only encourages them from calling mass scale war shots owing to their superiority complex (ingrained from the university days), but it also enables them to become comfortably numb at the consequences (owing to educational indifferences) and work against the interest of the people at large (who they were prevented from mingling with, by the university towers).