Inventing the University

In Response to “Inventing the University.”

In my opinion, David Bartholomae’s argument that new students do not always possess the skills necessary to write correctly according to the standards of university academic writing and that placing more emphasis on the content is still valid. However, some things have changed in 30 years that may modify the argument slightly. College students today come from diverse backgrounds, experience, and educational levels. A student such as myself might have the necessary skills with regards to writing technical documents, how to manuals, and other documentation required for the current work environment, but may lack the skillset to write a properly formulated academic paper. So Bartholomae’s idea may not only apply to beginning students but may also apply to new students who have been in the workforce or returning students who have been away from the university academic environment for some time.

In the 30 years since David Bartholomae wrote this article, they way we get our information has changed dramatically. We use the internet as a primary resource for research. Information travels quickly and is readily available at our fingertips. New forms of communication and acquiring information has changed academic discourse. Smartphones give us the ability to communicate almost instantaneously from anywhere. New discoveries transmit in seconds instead of days or weeks, allowing real-time collaboration on a global scale. Students now not only have the capacity to communicate with each other in real time the also have the ability to learn from a distance through online education. The internet has become an accepted way to transfer knowledge from teacher to student.

In 2016 inventing the University is, in my opinion, about learning to communicate using new media previously unavailable to us 30 years ago. To my mind, the ability to communicate your ideas using multiple mechanisms has far greater value now. A new medium like video logs, blogs and podcasts become more important in getting your point across. Using new media means learning new skills to create that content. It means taking a step back and throwing away any preconceptions of what I thought it would be and starting fresh. In 2016 inventing the university means using my real-world experience in combination with what I am learning in school and learning on my own, to write/create from a position of authority.

As a new student and new member of this educational community, I find inventing the university today means to reinvent myself and adjust my expectations accordingly. The need to readjust the work/life balance to become the work/school/life balance presents challenges. I feel the struggle of academic discourse as represented in Bartholomae’s article speaks to this truth in my case as I attempt to find that balance. The ability to switch gears is a requirement more so now than ever. It is essential to turn off the work day to prepare for school and also continue this process from school to home. I almost forgot work/school/life/cat because my cat always says me now, I guess the struggle IS real.