Monday Potpourri

I spent the early part of this afternoon doing some exercises from a book about writing, and as part of a goal-setting sequence, I decided I want to post at least ten times over the next thirty days. So here’s number one.


I’ve mentioned in the past that I get uncomfortable setting goals, making New Year’s Resolutions, and such, because I feel as though I set myself up for guilt and failure. However, there was a passage in Mundis’s book that may serve me as a sort of antidote, or at least is something I could stand to hear.

Remember, a goal is not something you have to achieve. It should be neither a lash on your back nor a mechanism of potential failure. It is simply a guideline, a signpost to help keep you moving in the right direction.

I understand this on an intellectual level, as I understand many of my internal challenges. It is far harder for me to learn to understand and accept this internally, in a way that informs my outlook, whether conscious or subconscious. But hard is not the same thing as impossible. We shall see.


I learned a few minutes ago that Harvard has decided to offer all of its undergrad courses in online form this year, and no, there will not be a corresponding drop in tuition. Part of this I think is part of the insistence that online instruction is equal to face-to-face class meetings. (I disagree, but that isn’t really the thrust of this discussion.), but I think there’s another factor at play here, one which might prove interesting.

We know that part of Harvard’s appeal has been the fact that it has been a genuinely good school for a very long time. However, I would suggest (and I don’t think I’m alone in this) that a significant component of Harvard’s value is the opportunity for its students to network, building connections with other members of a social elite. In its worst form, it’s the Old Boys Club thing, but even if your child isn’t going to be joining the Illuminati (I kid, I kid — we’re all in the Illuminati; some of us just don’t know it.), we talk about the relationships Harvard folks develop, which will often connect them with different circles than one might join after attending, say, Mondoville.

My question, then, is how many of those connections can develop when college life becomes virtual? Even if, for the sake of argument, the quality of education remains exactly the same, how will the connections develop in an exclusively online setting? And if the students aren’t building those relationships and social capital, then how long will parents be willing to foot the bill for mere (if nicely branded) certification?

While I agree with my dad’s statement that “You can get a good education anywhere — but you have to want it,” I recognize that brands do have value. But if Harvard’s brand value is in part based on networking and connections, does that value take a hit, and if so, how much? And how long until the market decides that it is unwilling to pay the usual price for a diminished product?


And since it wouldn’t be a potpourri post without a trip to the garage, here’s a track that I’m actually surprised I haven’t already shared. Little Phil and the Night Shadows existed in various forms from 1956 to 1969, which is like eleven consecutive incarnations with the same lovers in ordinary terms. The Atlanta-based band started as a house band at a skating rink spent years working the frat rock angle (often losing gigs at white fraternities because the frats preferred to hire black R&B/beach music acts — race relations were sometimes very strange in the early 60s South) before turning to a punkier garage feel by the mid-60s. They may be best remembered for the fuzzed-out “60 Second Swinger”, but I prefer this more plaintive track. From January of 1966, here’s “So Much.”

See you soon!

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
This entry was posted in Culture, Education, Music, Why I Do What I Do. Bookmark the permalink.

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