Leveling the Field

What I learned from for-profit education.
  1. It was the second week of UNIV 101: University of Phoenix New Student Orientation, and Dr. U. was talking about goals.

    “What is goals?” she asked in her melodious Polish accent. There were four of us in UNIV 101, me and Ty and Rob and Junior, and no one seemed quite sure what to make of the question. Thus far there had been little evidence of Socratic irony or indirection holding a prominent place in the pedagogical toolkit here at Phoenix, so if Dr. U. was asking what is goals? then the answer was almost certainly somewhere in the reading. Shuffling through the printouts in front of me, I saw it written at the top of a page: “Simply stated, goals are outcomes an individual wants to achieve in a stated period of time.” By then, Ty’s hand was already up.

    “Goals,” he told Dr. U., “are when you have something you want to accomplish in the future.”

    Before coming to Phoenix, Ty took classes at Hudson Community, just on the other side of Interstate 78 from our classroom in Jersey ...

The complete text of “Leveling the Field” is not in the Byliner library, but we love it so much we included an excerpt and a link to the full story on www.harpers.org.

Originally published in Harper's, October 2011

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