The pasts and futures of Higher Ed


Welcome to Revisions Required, a blog maintained by Melonie Fullick (@qui_oui) and Tamson Pietsch (@cap_and_gown) from York and Sydney/Brunel universities, respectively.

It traces the temporal dimension of current talk about higher education – how certain versions of the history of education are invoked alongside interpretations of its present, and predictions for its future.

Education itself is tied up with an imagined future in that we still hold on to the dream of shaping society through controlling what people learn. The assumed power of education is that it should mitigate past systemic problems inherited in the present, while producing for us a particular version of the future – and that through education, we can choose which future that will be. We can see this in media accounts of the “failure” of education to produce the right kinds of citizens, or to eliminate social and economic problems that have their roots far from the classroom. Education is about changing our world, thus the obsession with changing education.

This is why it’s important that so much bad history is mobilised in discussion about universities – by governments, by Vice-Chancellors, by commentators, and perhaps worst of all by “educational innovators” who, in their calls for change, cast the past in terms that would have been unrecognisable to those who inhabited it.

We call on all those who care about the past, present and future of higher education to contribute examples of such #BadEdHistory wherever it may be found. Because, re-visioning the past is a way of en-visioning the future and in this we all have a stake. Please tweet or email us – we seek authors of posts, and also examples of “time-speak”.

To remind us that this is not the first occasion (nor indeed will it be the last)  on which the future of the university has been imagined, our header shows an image of the University of the Future, as projected by General Electric engineers in 1961.