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mfa non-resident programs

updated thu 14 dec 00


Norman van der Sluys on wed 13 dec 00

Some of the attitudes expressed in the discussion about Vermont College and
remote degree programs disturb me. They seem to be based on the presumption
that the degree candidate is a "traditional" student in early adulthood, or
else in a position to make what is currently a long-shot gamble that
acquiring a degree will yield financial benefits in the end. They reinforce
the notion that an MFA is a hoop to jump through and a means of restricting
applications for positions of lifelong security. It leaves the impression
that the shared experience of the traditional university social scene will
ensure that potential colleagues will "fit in" to the faculty social and
political milieu (Been there, grew up in it!)

The realities of our current era demand a change in the old club. There is
a real need for alternative sources of education and certification of
abilities. Careers are now typically not life-long, and mid-life
occupational changes have become the norm in this time of rapid
technological change. It is important to explore ways in which these
alternatives can be provided. I see no reason why those interested in the
arts should be afforded less opportunity than those interested in business
administration. I considered the Vermont College alternative several years
ago, and while I eventually decided to take a different path, I think it is
a viable alternative to traditional resident programs, and conventional
institutions might well study their operations if they are truly interested
in providing educational opportunity to the general public.

As for me, Clayart is providing my advanced degree, better suited to a
career as a studio potter, thank you

Norm van der Sluys
By the shore of Lake Michigan, waiting for daylight to shovel out to the
road. Winter, what a concept!

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