Rethinking The Academy:

Financial Issues and the Traditional System

No discussion of traditional pedagogy can be complete without a discussion of the infrastructure and the financial structures that underlay, surround, and sometimes undermine the traditional classroom.

The traditional classroom is an expensive one: the walls, plumbing, floors, desks, chalkboards and other physical manifestations of the traditional classroom are, not to put to fine a point on it, quite costly.

One way, then, of saving money is to increase the size of the classroom: for the cost of one overhead projector, one screen and one speaker system, it is possible, though hardly desirable, to increase the size of the classroom to fit hundreds or even thousands of students.

That this also cuts down on faculty salaries - either by the simple elimination of faculty or by the replacement of faculty by graduate students and adjunct faculty - gives a real impetus to the growth of classroom size.

Of course, these are the very accusations made of the computer, or on-line, classroom: that setting a class in cyberspace will allow administrators - here seen as the villains of the piece - to have class sizes of ten thousand or more, but this is emphatically not limited to cyberspace alone: replace two or three classrooms with a large-sized lecture halls and costs can plummet, at least on paper.

However, since we are used to the idea of the traditional classroom, we may forget that it, too, is driven by economic pressures.

Thus, as pedagogues, we must make some of those invisible financial imperatives more visible so that they can be fairly compared to the costs of the electronic classroom.

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Last Modified: August 2, 1996

Copyright 1996 by Keith Dorwick