Stephen Downes was a coworker of mine. While I left, he is still a senior researcher at the largest research institution in Canada. It is thanks to him if this blog exists, if I understand why the current university learning model is wrong, and finally, why I keep on putting into question so many institutionalized truths. His blog was named the best education blog of 2005. And people cite his papers, again and again. He is a man of courage. I once stood in a room full of people who had spent a year as partners in one of those big heavily funded projects: Stephen stood up, took the microphone and basically told them that everything they did was meaningless. I don’t recall the exact words, but it was pretty close. All experienced researchers know that the big projects are usually excuses for individuals to do their own meaningless research (99% of academic research is meaningless on its own) while pretending to work on common goals, but very few people will ever stand up and say it the way it is. Actually, to my knowledge, only Stephen Downes does this sort of thing.
Now, he has done it again. Let me quote him:
Where I work now, and where I live now, isn’t working for me. I want to work in a place that sees me as something other than a means of transfering wealth from people and government to corporate shareholders, and to live in a community that has culture and diversity, new ideas and new ways of looking at the world. (…) And maybe there isn’t a magic rainbow-land where every day of my life will feel meaningful and engaged and complete. And maybe I shouldn’t be typing this, and maybe you shouldn’t be reading it. But forget all that. This year isn’t last year, and I will be charting new directions to points unknown. Maybe I’ll founder, maybe not. But it’s now, I think, or never – and I couldn’t live with never.