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The Pedagogy of the Ivory Tower

Whether you’re an academic, graduate student, or simply an entity within an educational institution, you’ve probably heard the term Ivory Tower referring to academic elitism. As within any social group, there is an acquired language and behavior associated with the group. As a participant of that group, you learn the language, mannerisms, behavior of what the group requires in order to discover your place within that group. This is typically known as a socialization process. There are cultural, social, political, economic standards a member must adhere to in order to find her/his place in the group more adequately. Education as an institution is not any different from other institutions and/or groups such as business, the arts, fashion, technology, or religion. Even within these main groups, there are subgroups with differing standards leading to a lack of cross communication. Given this is a communications blog, this post will cover strategies to improving society through the ability to interact with different institutions.

What makes academia different? Why is it often referred to as an Ivory Tower? Knowledge and language are two of the most elemental driving forces in creating operative processes. It creates power structures and a hierarchical order, sometimes without any form of accountability. A conundrum: what use is knowledge if most people cannot comprehend the language in which the knowledge is communicated in? This is problematic on an institutional level within the educational system, especially in higher education. On the other hand, should an academic (someone who has diligently worked to reach a level of intelligence) translate her/his production to a more ‘common’ form of language so that the public can understand? Or perhaps a communicative, technological tool should be used in order to solve such a problem.

We shouldn’t expect academics and scientists to translate their work into a more common language shared by most people, but we can advocate for a communication platform in which it is translated for the general public. Most pedagogical research focuses on developing equity centric frameworks for those already within the educational system. A recent development are ivy league institutions offering free classes online to the public. This is a great leap in the right direction, allowing a greater majority of people to increase their knowledge, but this avoids the problem with the pedagogical processes and academia itself, the general public is still unaware. To solve the original problem, translating existing scholarly work into a common language, would require a large workforce or an advanced program.

This would require an intricate, complex design involving technology and communication devices. How would this advance humanity?

  • It would allow access into other social groups’ language, trends, organizational processes for growth and development.
  • It would create a better understanding and mutual alliance amongst diverse groups.
  • It would help people reach their potential and develop a sense of accomplishment.
  • An established interconnectedness amongst humankind through the comprehension of universal knowledge.
  • A cessation of social, economic, political, educational hierarchical barriers between groups.

These are just a few reasons as to why an alternative platform needs to be developed. I can understand why an accomplished academic or scientist may have a problem with such a platform given their process in achieving such credentials, but isn’t the purpose of achieving such impressive credentials to share your knowledge, discoveries, insights in order to cultivate a greater understanding and interrelatedness with others? Beneath our accomplishments which were achieved through a hierarchical process, don’t we all share a common trait – being human?



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