search  current discussion  categories  teaching 

online mfa colleges offering the degree? response to vince,,waxing

updated tue 6 jun 06


Kathy McDonald on mon 5 jun 06


On Sunday June 3, 2006 Vince P stated:

"As I said, I have no problem with change. But I cannot
accpept the dumbing
down of MFA programs, where it is easier for the student and
there's less
work for the faculty, and thus they are able to funnel more
students through
their programs. Don't they realize that such programs
less-qualified teachers and artists, and that this reflects
badly on the

Vince.. I had this discussion with my brother in law this
past weekend.
He is a professor and Chair of Grad Studies for his dept.
at a large Canadian University.
His argument is that the existence of the programs we speak
as well as many of the skill based professions like law and
even engineering
have largely evolved as a post industrial phenomenon and
that they really
do not have a place in Universities at all. He teaches
history and points out
that many of the skill based professions were based on an
apprenticeship model
that served quite well until the post WW2 era.

The study of art for its own merit and the abstractions
related to it were the focus for
institutions of higher learning in days gone by.

In this day and age we have tried to combine the two which,
in my opinion,
has led to an extremely confusing mish mash of programs that
meet neither
of the objectives stated above. Hence we struggle with the
issue of whether to
"dumb down" or not. What's it gonna be???... teaching
people skills or providing
a "growth experience" and time to focus on the abstractions
that art (or craft)

I'm not as naive to believe that it's an either or
issue...however I
do know that there has been a STRONG move in the education
field to
teach teachers the skills needed to teach. Much more so
than at any
time in the past 5 decades, and that this is being
accomplished by
offering online advanced study combined with practical
to those who meet successful entry standards. There are
planning and
evaluation issues but the benefits far outweigh the risks

the workplace standard for credentials is at minimum an MFA
Hiring individuals with those credentials enables schools
to meet "standards"
and obtain grants. Institutions that hire non-degree people
are, in fact,
penalized financially for hiring those with the hands on
skills gained
from a lifetime of experience and the study of a particular
art making medium.

I digress a bit here, and do NOT want to start the old "art
vs craft" debate
but I do believe that universities and colleges could have
streams that
allow those who have devoted years to the study of a medium
the opportunity
to access the credentials that society has, for whatever
reason, decided
are necessary to perform that function. This is NOT dumbing

Nuff said for you can likely tell I have also
thought about
this issue a lot.

Elizabeth Priddy stated that Vince (and others who have
influence in the academic
world) can have a great deal of influence how this might
look ......perhaps
this is a post-post-industrial phenomenon beginning to

> ""As an academic in a position to structure and change
> the "way it is done", you are uniquely capable of
> getting into this game and making a legit program
> through your college, a model of how it ought to be.

> You maybe should consider all the voices in this
> thread and see if your program could accommodate the
> needs of people who seek MFA's on line. There are
> good reasons for it. And Public Universities should
> serve the public.""

No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Free Edition.
Version: 7.1.394 / Virus Database: 268.8.1/355 - Release
Date: 6/2/2006