- Oct 2017
p. 77 Description of Rochdale in 1967 (i.e. before the tower went up)
At the moment there are some 30 full-time members of the college, who come from all over North America and range from Ph.D.'s to high school dropouts. They are much younger than a cross-section of the university, but somewhat older than a cross-section of undergraduates. There are another 50-200 part-time participants, mostly students or teachers at degree-granting institutions in Toronto. We occupy six rented houses this year; next fall we'll move into an 18-storey building which is under construction at the corner of Huron and Bloor. It will house 850 residents, who will own and operate the building cooperatively; it will also become a focal point for the college's external members. It is up to each member to determine the extent, form, and content of his participation in the college's educational life--including, in a number of cases, none at all.
p. 75 Two interesting points about mismatch between university and students:
(1) Many of the students who are being processed have little inclination or capacity for the rigours of a liberal education. Fine. But I object to the game of pretending that they would be able to achieve liberal goals within the system we offer, if only they tried harder. That is simply not true, and it does bad things to their psyches to encourage them to believe it. It would be far more honest, and I should think more fruitful, to accept most university education as having different aims from the liberal. Once drop that pretence, in both rhetoric and practice, and you could begin meeting the great bulk of students where they actually are.
(2) Some students at least would be capable of an education far superior to the one the system enforces. They are being positively harmed by their university education, since they have to meet its demands before their liberal (and usually private) pursuit begins. (And before you ask, "Why can't the two coincide?" ask a good student how much of the university's instruction moves him toward the first-hand apprehension of his discipline's coherence and beauty.)
p.74 Summarises the place of the university/multiversity
(1) The multiversity is a place where great thought and great research are often possible.
(2) The multiversity is a place from which great contributions can often be made to society.
(3) The multiversity is a place in which the claims of institutional continuity and efficiency come to head-on collision with its educational aims; the latter are normally wiped off the map.
(4) The multiversity is a place in which the education of the vast majority ranges from the mediocre to the pernicious. This fact creates new educational norms, which become positive deterrents to the education of any who wish to go beyond the majority. It is for these students -- the bright ones, the original or independent ones, the ones who care deeply --that the university is such bad news. It is in the crazy position of obstructing their education.
(5) Education at the multiversity is post-secondary, encouraging the transfer of discrete units of information and theory, rather than liberal, encouraging the contemplation of energizing form in what a student comes to know. And the system of lectures, essays and exams, and the root assumptions of thousands of the university's members, canonize the post-secondary version of education. It is possible to go beyond it, but only by radically dissenting from the university. For the twenty-year-old who does not know what he is dissenting in favour of, this is either very isolating or very undermining.
Lee, Dennis. 1968. “Getting to Rochdale.” In The University Game, edited by Howard Adelman and Dennis Lee, 69–94. Toronto: Anansi. https://market.android.com/details?id=book-j7tYAAAAMAAJ.