It doesn’t take much to realize that the schooling system is broken. Sir Ken Robinson makes a very compelling argument in his 2011 talk at the Royal Society for the Arts. But for every education theorist who looks to the breakdown coming from dated systems attempting to engage a technologically-enhanced world, how many look to the Shakespearean option of the fault lying not so much in our systems, but in ourselves?
What writer Neil Berliner and artist Chris Houghton arrive at with “Being Thrown Under the Syllabus Dept.” is a wholly provocative take on the crisis in education. One which has less to do with received values and tradition that conflict with the evolved technological sensibilities of the student body and more to do with the inherent “dumb” of humans relying on tried and tested means to solve unforeseen problems.
The social savvy of Berliner and Houghton doesn’t lie in Houghton’s depiction of the cultural diversity in the class—not in the Mid-Eastern playboy looking for his next date, not the lumberjack-bearded redhead on his tablet angrily scanning Reddit, not serious-minded girl checking out Lolcats on her phone. Instead, the gag comes in with the pure genius of the intellectual paucity of the courses, thrown up against a student body more diverse than any student body ever imagined by the college professors who designed the syllabus, and faculty who are well past their prime and marching on into a kind of universal cantankerousness.
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