SaaS, Scholarship as a Service: a Slippery Slope to the Bottom Line

April 18, 2017

 

 

Scholarship has a long and rich history that dates back hundreds of centuries to Ancient Rome, Greece and Mesopotamia, to name a few. Mathematics, science, architecture, politics, literature and commerce all originated thousands of years before the arrival of the Jamestown settlers. On the clock of civilization, America has been around for seconds at best, so our contributions to these areas are limited.

 

Today, scholarship is dead, or at least on life support. Even the term scholarship is currently more popular as a reference to funds to pay for an education as opposed to the actual education. Capitalism, earnings, and possessions serve as the primary motivators for academic accomplishment; long gone are the days whereby one attended university to become learned and well rounded. It’s all about the Benjamins now; by the way he is one of the few scholars this country can tout.

 

SaaS usually refers to software and paying for the use of it without the burden of hardware and competent bodies to babysit it, hence the ‘as a service’ part. It appears to me that scholarship has traversed along the same path. Overall, we don’t want the hassle of learning, studying or even exploring unknown topics or trying to solve the unsolved; just easy answers in real-time to satisfy the need of the hour.

 

Information, formerly known as knowledge, doesn’t enter the mind as frequently as it used to for long term visits; it passes through, fulfills a goal and is purged when deemed no longer useful. This shortsighted approach to processing data leaves society in a precarious position. Who will be the thinkers of this era and eras to follow, she/he with the most followers on social media?

 

Don’t get me wrong, there have been great innovative products and ideas to come from this young nation, both recently and in past centuries. The point of this essay is to bring the magnifying glass right over a major societal misstep and focus: we are driven by money first and actions tend to matter iff something financial is to be gained (Sadly spell check doesn’t know that iff is a real word — it means if and only if).

 

Unfortunately in a world of mortgages, healthcare, transportation, telecommunications, utilities and other costs, we require some substantial means of support to maintain all of these must haves. Subsequently, we groom our children to think of college and any scholarly activity as a stepping-stone to the proverbial dream job. That mentality leaves very little room or time to pursue one’s passion perfecting a craft, skill, art form, or topic of research.

 

A more penetrating concept to peruse is who will be the providers of this Scholarship as a Service if we are actively promoting scholarship as workforce development? We are setting ourselves up to be a society with two possible scenarios: 1) 1% has most of the wealth and 1% has most of the knowledge or 2) 1% has them both. As the adage goes “A fool and his money are soon parted.”

 

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