I read yesterday this article by Luca Morini on Hybrid Pedagogy, which argues for the importance of uselessness in higher education. I am sharing here the annotated hypothes.is link because there are already so many great annotations there.
It’s a really provocative argument against neoliberalism and it’s beautifully written – go read it and come back.
I just wanted to unpack one major point in his article. The uselessness. I think there are about 3 ways to take his argument on Uselessness:
- Uselessness as absolute – it’s ok for Higher Education and learning to be about completely useless things. That is a really hard argument to agree with
- Uselessness as temporal – what may seem useless today may become useful tomorrow. That’s hinted at in his dinosaur/evolution example. We don’t know what will be useful tomorrow so we can play and experiment today – it might become useful someday. Much of science is built on this
- Uselessness as contextual – we value different things. So while something may not be useful in context of marketability or employability it may be useful in terms of promoting open mindedness or nurturing the soul
- (also a 4th one) Usefulness as intrinsic – something need not be useful beyond itself. E.g. Music for sake of music
I wish I could give an assignment prompt exactly like what Luca wrote: