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AKA Review
July 14, 2023
At AKA, we closely follow trends and latest developments
in higher education and the nonprofit sector.

Here are some recent articles and reports that we found particularly informative.
From The New York Times:
What It Is Like to Teach in the Cross Hairs of Ron DeSantis
By Tressie McMillian Cottom
McMillan Cottom paints a vivid picture of the atmosphere created by Governor Ron DeSantis’ attacks on Florida’s colleges and universities as part of his “stop woke” campaign. The uncertainty and lack of guidance about what will happen when new laws targeting unions and DEI programming go into effect have added to the fear and intimidation people feel. But this is intentional; the real culture war is not about wokeness but about fear, secrecy, and control. And most of all, it is about real people and their livelihoods, in institutions that are far easier to raze than to rebuild. Read this article

From The Atlantic:
The Toyota Corolla Theory of College
By Sanjay Sarma & Luke Yoqunito
Observers urging colleges to strip themselves down to create an affordable, job-ready product have compared higher education with the 1970’s U.S. car industry, when Japanese manufacturers grabbed market share with smaller, cheaper, and more fuel-efficient vehicles. Examining this more closely, the authors compare Detroit’s obsession with standardizing assembly and disempowering workers with Japan’s reliance on small worker teams trusted to improve production. Essentially, Toyota outdid Detroit not by eliminating human complexity but by “putting that pesky human element to good use” to achieve efficiency, reliability, and lower costs. Producing good learning should pursuing a similar strategy: investing in students and teachers while stripping away obstacles in their path. Read this article

From BigThink
How the Metaverse will Revolutionize K-12 and Higher Education
By Louis Rosenberg
Computer scientist Louis Rosenberg argues that virtual and augmented reality tools will revolutionize K-12 through university coursework by providing “virtual apprenticeships” that force us to broaden our definition of experiential learning. The power of VR and AR learning arises from its: “Immersiveness” in first-person experiences. Ability to transport one not just to different times and places but to different scales—among both dinosaurs and blood cells. And it allows students to engage the world through different eyes—to live rather than watch what it’s like to be a person of color confronting discriminatory experiences. Immersive VR and AR experiences, he concludes, will produce deeper learning by developing intuition that, blended with knowledge and skills, becomes second nature. Read this article

From Foreign Affairs
America's Education Crisis Is a National Security Threat
By Nicholas Eberstadt & Evan Abramsky
An essential ingredient of human capital is education: the quantity of schooling received by national populations. A better-educated citizenry means a more productive economy and thus greater military potential. While the world has seen a vast educational explosion over the past 70 years, its unevenness has shifted the distribution of economic potential among countries—the U.S. among the biggest losers in this reshuffling. Solutions lie in both addressing poor U.S. educational performance (e.g., graduation rates, average years of schooling) and in creative alliances with future centers of educational excellence. But first we must acknowledge that education is no longer just a domestic policy issue but a national security concern on which our nation’s future depends. Read this article

Further Reading
From Harper’s Magazine
"Excellent Sheep"- Miseducation of the American Elite
By William Deresiewicz
William Deresiewicz, author of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite & The Way to a Meaningful Life, critiques the current practical, credential-focused ethos of higher education—situating it within the broader societal idea that life can be reduced to an orderly succession of achievements that will guarantee security and comfort. Rather, he argues “a successful life necessarily involves a degree of uncertainty and risk, as well as of serendipity and intuition,” and that getting students to understand this “is one of the most important functions that colleges and mentors can perform.” Read this article

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