[Smt-talk] Teaching for free

Donna Doyle donnadoyle at att.net
Mon Jul 1 06:11:12 PDT 2013

Dear Victor,

While I agree that some higher ed costs have become scandalously unreasonable and I applaud your idealism, I have reservations re tuition-free education. Here they are:

1. One tends to get what one pays for. Psychologists, for ex, know that a fee is necessary.

2. To devise curricula meeting the needs/ interests of each student is work-intensive on an ongoing basis. In addition, to be effective, the lessons need to be professional (informality tends to devolve into coffee chats) and to occur regularly. I dare to guess that few will be committed enough to sustain this with no financial compensation. 

3. Some of us earn necessary income teaching privately. To be undercut by those who can afford to work gratis, often because of former lucrative positions, is dismaying.

3. Public universities were created 100+ yrs ago to meet this situation. Tuition at the City University of New York is 15% of tuition at many private institutions.

4. If someone wants to contribute in retirement, how about teaching at a neighborhood music school? Or establishing one (what your idea seems  to imply); but, of course, this takes  enormous work and ongoing funding. 
Good luck!
Best regards,
Donna Doyle

Adjunct Lecturer
Queens College-CUNY
Flushing, NY 11367

Manhattan School of Music
Full-time Faculty, Theory and Composition Depts,

On Jun 30, 2013, at 3:05 PM, Victor grauer <victorag at verizon.net> wrote:

> Dear Colleagues,
> For some time now I've found myself discouraging young people from playing the "financial aid" game when applying to colleges and universities, urging them to find some alternative route to learning what they want or need to learn, because, what with sky high tuition coupled with horrific burdens of debt, higher education is becoming more and more of an outrageous scam with each passing year. Now, with the unconscionable doubling of the rate for federally funded loans on the horizon, the situation must be described as nothing short of dire.
> I really don't know what to tell students primarily interested in the vocational side of higher ed, because 1. I don't see that as in itself a very rewarding pursuit and 2. there are no jobs out there anyhow, regardless of whether you have a business, engineering, anthropology or, God help you, music degree.
> But lately I've been asking myself a very pertinent question: what can I do? And each time I ask myself this question, I get the same answer: you have a Ph. D. in music composition and theory, you have years of teaching experience in these areas, you are now retired, with some free time on your hands . . . so why not offer your services free of charge to young people (or old people for that matter) with a strong desire to learn more about music, who cannot any longer afford any of the established higher ed venues, and don't want to place themselves in indentured servitude for the rest of their lives?
> And I'm wondering whether anyone else out there in SMT land might be thinking along the same lines. Yes, I know, there are some "free universities" out there, but I haven't yet found one I could easily fit into. What I've found so far was some group in NYC that looks like more of a protest group than a real university, and another online "free university" that offers classes only in business and computer science.
> So I'm wondering whether a group of us along with our colleagues in other academic fields might want to work together to start something more like a real university, not necessarily limited to music, but possibly starting out with it. And, of course, free. What I have in mind could involve "live" classes in some local venue, e.g., a public library or recreation center, or online classes, via software such as Finale or Print Music or Sibelius, etc., or ideally both live and/or online, depending on the location of the student. As I see it, the only costs would be some publicity to get things started, and then lots and lots of patience until things finally got rolling. I know for a fact that there are many people out there with a strong interest in music and a real desire to learn more about how it works and what can be done with it beyond the usual rocking, hipping and hopping, but without the means to pursue that interest.
> So, I'm wondering what others on this list might think and if any others might be interested in working with me on this. And also whether any of you know of anything similar already under way that I and others like me could get involved with.
> Thanks,
> Victor Grauer
> Pittsburgh, PA, USA
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