February 23, 2010

New Minister of Research

After the American Century

Surely it is a sign of the times that the new minister of education in Denmark has been a key figure in setting up an educational amusement park. The size of ten football fields, Danfoss Universe (not University!) is for young people between the ages of about 6 and 15. It is dedicated to the proposition that education ought to be interactive fun. The attractions at Danfoss Universe appear to be aimed at future biologists, mathematicians, engineers, builders, planners, and scientists. 

The humanities and the arts do not seem important in Danfoss Universe. I may be mistaken as I have not been there, being a little older than the target group. I do qualify for entry to Danfoss Universe, fortunately, though full access to the attractions require one to be over 135 cm tall and weigh less than 117 kilograms. This suggests that persons like myself might still be welcome at the universities, though I presumaly ought to redesign my teaching to be more fun and interactive, and to use a host of new technologies. The Danfoss Universe webpage clearly indicates that the PC is old-fashioned and embraces digital telephones and other miniature devices. Until now I have (no doubt mistakenly) tried to keep students from using these things during class.

One other detail: the new Minister of Research failed to complete her BA and has no university degree of any kind.

Danfoss Universe may be fun and interactive and high tech, but it is hardly free. Admission is 175 kroner for one day (about $35 per adult), although children under 3 get in free. Surely one of the new minister's first steps will be to put in turnstiles and a ticket booth. If the same fees apply at the university, then Denmark will be charging tuition for the first time. Assuming students have classes (fun and interactive classes, of course) three times a week for 13 weeks, they would need to pay 6825 kroner per semester.Surely there ought to be fees for exams as well, bringing the cost up to perhaps 7500 dk, or 15000 per year, or 45000 kroner for the standard 3-year BA. 

Personally, I can hardly wait to be part of an interactive, fun universe of learning where the students like it so much they pay to come, instead of the silly system we have had until now where the high Danish taxes paid for university, which being free, was also at times a bit old-fashioned about teaching. Students were expected to read books rather than click on miniature screens, remember what they learned instead of looking it up on Goggle, and, in a pinch, be able to write without a spell-checker.  Now those (world's highest!!!!) high taxes can be used for something else.